THE FAVOUR – A M Smith © [fiction] 


As my faithful followers know, periodically I post my stories on this blog, so here’s a Flash Fiction  story – just to finish off November month. Please enjoy.

“ I have a favour to ask you. I’m your new neighbor,” explained the dapper man on my doorstep. I  took in the neatly trimmed white beard, the black eyes, the black Homberg hat, the  tailored black suit.

“ Septimus Izzard, at your service,” he continued, extending a black gloved hand, which I meekly shook and mumbled  “Daphne Turner,” in return. I was still processing the hat, the gloves, the  … oh, everything; who wears a hat these days anyway?

“I’m so sorry to impose on you,” continued Mr Izzard “ but I have a family crisis and need to leave immediately; I should only be away for two days, and I wonder,” he gently grasped my hand and led me rapidly down the path, through his gate, and I followed like a lamb. Mentally replaying the events afterwards, I think he must have hypnotized me. Mr Izzard, indeed! Should have had a ‘W’ in front of his name, if you ask me.

“Here’s the key to the shed,” and he handed me  the key, “ if you’d be kind enough to come twice daily, and turn my egg for me, it’ll take only 5 minutes at the most, let me show you. Oh: by the way – I breed …umm… rare reptiles.” He showed me a small poultry incubator. “ I will forever be indebted to you, dear lady and hope I can repay the favour soon.”

So there I was, that evening, dutifully turning the egg. I must say it was a very big egg. Not quite  the size of an ostrich egg, but close. The dull grey  shell had a surprisingly  rough texture.

Funny sort of egg, but what do I know about rare reptiles? Next morning I knew a great deal more. The incubator no longer contained an egg, but a cracked shell, and …  and .. a small reptile, bright blue,  glistening scales,  with a spiked tail ,yellow eyes, huge nostrils, a forked tongue, and  sagging wings that flapped like  damaged umbrellas. It was bleating in a raspy voice and was clearly distressed.

“Ohmigodohmigod!” I yelled. If that wasn’t a baby dragon, then I don’t know. Exotic reptiles indeed!  Suddenly I heard a loud roaring, combined with a chuffing sound  like an old steam train engine, you know? My  hair was blown back by a violent wind, and a huge shadow covered  the shed. I looked out of the window.  “Aaaaarrrggghhh !” I screamed and ran to the shelter of the porch in front of the house. I cowered behind a column and tried to be invisible.

But the gigantic blue dragon wasn’t interested in me. With one swipe of its mighty foreleg it smashed down the shed door, and seconds later emerged carrying the baby dragon in its mouth, for all the world like a cat. It tenderly deposited the dragonet on the grass, turned, blew a  massive  gout of flame into the shed, then another, until the shed was blazing,  picked up its baby and flew rapidly upwards.

I think I must have fainted, because the next thing I heard was the sound of the village fire engine’s bell and  shouts of the volunteer fire brigade. I  cautiously sidled round to the back of the house and made a quiet exit into the lane behind our houses, and crept into my back garden like a thief. I fell into my kitchen and  took a big swig of brandy straight out of the bottle,  then added another hefty tot into my  mug of coffee.  When I’d recovered somewhat, I  combed my hair, cleaned my teeth, and went to join the bedlam in next door’s garden. 

“Hello Daphne – shed’s a right old bonfire”, said George, one of the volunteers, as though I was both blind and stupid.

“Oh my goodness! I wonder how that happened?” I said. There was no way, on heaven or earth, that I was going to enlighten anyone about the source of the fire. After all, I had to  continue living in the village,  and I didn’t want to be labelled the local crazy lady, did I ?

“Probably some paint thinners or something like that,” I craftily added “You know how people keep all sorts flammable stuff in their sheds.” George took the bait and agreed.

I never saw or heard of Mr Izzard again. His disappearance became the Village Mystery. Shortly after the fire, I opened my front door early in the morning, and  on the step was a beautiful potted shrub with blue flowers. Only the pot was solid gold, and the blue flowers were crystals.  No card of course, but I knew.  I  passed it off as a gift from my godson in Singapore.  And why not, I thought: why not?

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 The Book-Lover by A M Smith©[Fiction]


Doris was completely, utterly and forever, in love with books; with reading the printed word. As a precocious 5 year old she  suddenly made the connection between the black marks on the page and words, and that was it, the magic of reading struck powerfully, and for life.

Of course during her 60 years Doris experienced   other loves – briefly for her husband and cautiously for her children, but her one abiding love and passion that did  not fade over the years was for books, and the happy past time of reading. People would have been amazed to discover how passionately Doris felt about books, because Doris  effectively camouflaged herself as the archetypal Little Old Lady, and faded discreetly and quietly into the background. It just made life simpler.

 The arrival of gray hair,  a little stoop to the posture,  and a few extra kilograms  aided the process of becoming virtually invisible; and when she was visible,  it appeared that the Little Old Lady persona  swamped any other impressions. She was philosophical about  her official Little Old Lady status and in many ways it quite suited her. A little hesitation here, a little flutter or quaver there, certainly oiled the wheels and made things easier.

She was therefore surprised and flattered when Anne, a fellow volunteer at the local library asked whether Doris would like to join their Book Club.

“ I know how much you love your thrillers and whodunits,  and most of our club just love them too – you’ll have a ball,”  she said cheerily.

So Doris joined the Southern Suburbs Book Club happily ignorant that she  been approached in desperation to make up the numbers.

 “ Just as a temporary measure, she’s a quiet old duck, but very reliable and she does love her thrillers,” Ann breezily told the club.

Doris felt as if she  died and gone to heaven.  The Club had an enormous collection of books, packed into plastic crates and carted round to members’ houses for the monthly meetings. Oh the joy of reading all the latest thrillers,  whodunnits,  best sellers, family sagas, prize winning novels, biographies  and travel books,  and occasionally chick lit micro novels .Doris felt like the proverbial kid in that candy store, the alcoholic let loose at a bachelor stag party.  Doris was ecstatic.

A year passed by and suddenly the honeymoon was over. Doris began to notice how careless the other woman were with the books, treating them roughly, returning them dog eared or with  coffee-mug stained jackets; losing them altogether or  keeping them way beyond the loan period .

In Doris’s eyes this cavalier attitude to books was criminal, outrageous behaviour, heinous beyond belief or acceptance. However, she paid her Subs and returned her books religiously. She sat quietly and unobtrusively at Book Club meetings, neatly in old lady mode slowly sipping her glass of white wine,  only one for me thank you dear , and watched the raucous antics of the ladies. She was surprised to discover that many  of the members regarded the Book Club as an excuse to have a night out, away from husband, home and kids, to relax in a friendly female atmosphere helped along with a few bottles of wine.

 Certainly all the Book Club members could be classified as readers, but as book lovers ? No definitely not, rated on Doris’ scale of passionate obsession. The eleven other members scored minus five points on a scale of 10,  with one or two exceptions of course, but on the whole,  lamentable.

Doris brooded moodily. In private of course, because archetypal Little Old Ladies are not supposed to harbour dark, moody, broody thoughts. No of course not, perish the thought! The night Betty spilled a glass of red wine over the newest Jonathan Kellerman in a tipsy fit of giggling was the night that Doris decided that enough was enough.

As a child Doris  existed on a solid diet of her father’s Crime Book Club selection of thrillers and late 1940s  private eye  novels: Peter Cheney, Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie – undisputed queen of the genre – Edgar Wallace, Ellery Queen, the names flicked through her head in a satisfying, familiar roll call.

Other children  filled their school days with the jolly hockey sticks activities of the Enid Blyton books but not Doris, who  roared through these tame escapades and quickly discarded them in favour of the exciting, risqué  adult world of car chases, hangovers, chain smoking detectives wearing  raincoats, armed with pistols, alternating with the polite,sophisticated Society of Europe in the 1930s – sports cars, cocktails, foxtrots, backless evening dresses, aristocratic sleuths; and always, always,  MURDER as the solution to all of life’s little problems, financial, personal or romantic.  It seemed the perfectly reasonable solution to the book-despoiling Betties of this world . Anybody who treated books in such a disrespectful way definitely had  it coming to them, thought Doris . It would solve the Betty problem and then of course there was the odious Susan,  but, one thing at a time, Doris chided herself . Softly, softly catchee monkeee,  she murmured to herself, and carefully, carefully plot and plan, no good solving the Betty problem and getting oneself all tangled up . No, no!

“Betty dear”, she murmured hesitantly,” I wonder if I could ask you – I know how busy you are – but I did wonder …” and out came the request for Betty to help Doris with her volunteer duty at the library, next Tuesday afternoon .

“It’s just two hours, from two until four,  and the lady who usually helps,  is in hospital having her hip replaced, and it’s a bit much for me on my own … “ .Doris’s request tailed off uncertainly .

Betty  thought, shame, all those heavy books to cart around, it probably is a bit much for her ,“ OK, I’ll make a plan – see you at the library on Tuesday “.

 Betsy duly arrived at the library and Doris was flutteringly grateful for the help. “Cup of tea, dear? “ Doris inquired, “ shall I put the kettle on”, and then: “ Betty, I can hear the kettle boiling, would you mind? You’ll have to turn it off at the plug, it’s an old one, not an automatic, “ and obliging Betty groped her way into the dark corner housing the tea-making equipment, failed to see the cunning puddle of water in which she stood, didn’t notice the crafty removal of the earth wire in the kettle plug; the electricity sizzling up the wires did her no good at all: DOA at the emergency unit in Groot Schuur Hospital .

Poor old Doris, quite shattered . and what an awful accident, was the Book Club verdict. Doris, heavily in Little Old Lady mode, deliberately missed the club meeting after Betty’s  sad accident, and when she did appear, she looked paler than usual  (careful application of face powder two shades lighter the normal, did the trick) and seemed very subdued.

 Shame,  must have been a terrible shock, said the Book Club.

Then Fate played right into Doris’s hands: the odious, careless, non- book returning Susan unexpectedly had a stroke and was rushed to hospital . Susan was stricken the day before the monthly club meeting, and Anne breathlessly reported that Susan was in Our Lady of Fatima hospital, run by the nuns, up in Oranjezicht .

Now it so happened that Doris had  spent time in the hospital the previous year, having her gallbladder removed. Such dear, sweet nuns, she remembered rosily, such devoted nurses . Quite like the old days and such a quaint old building . Originally it  been a large convent but when  new novices declined to a thin trickle, the nuns decided to convert the building into a modest hospital in order to financially sustain their dwindling community . Yes it was an old building, she reflected . Hmmm.

so, Good Samaritan Doris visited Susan the next day, bearing a small pot plant, and fussing over the bed covers, and exclaiming over the life- support machine that ticked and bleeped next to the bed and assisted Susan’s very paralyzed body to breathe.

Doris didn’t stay long . “ I don’t want to tire you out, dear, and I do want to go and say hello to that nice sister Francis, she was so good to me last year. Bye, dear, I’ll come again tomorrow.”

Doris headed briskly for the Ladies cloak room, making a short detour down a small passage to check that her memory of the floor plan was correct. Yes indeed it was, there on the wall was the electrical distribution board . Who would have thought that marriage to an electrician would prove so useful so many years down the track, mused Doris, as she whisked into a nearby supply room to find a broom with a sufficiently long handle to push up the mains switch . Having switched off the power it took just another quick whisk into Susan’s room to turn off the life support machine at the wall plug

This time Doris didn’t stop  to say goodbye to Susan, seemed pointless really. The corridors were filled with nurses and nuns scurrying distractedly to and fro in search of the cause of the power failure and  when the power was finally restored, everybody assumed that all was well with Susan and her life support machine, but alas, this assumption proved false and the dear, sweet nuns didn’t notice that the wall plug was switched off . Accidents happen, even in the best regulated hospitals.

Book Club meetings for the next couple of months were much quieter and better ordered with the removal of Betty and Susan. Doris attended happily, now secure in a neatly ordered club until somebody suggested that maybe they should look for two new members? The rising price of books and the two missing monthly subscriptions were causing a bit of financial strain. Two new members were recruited and Doris anxiously watched their behaviour, their demeanor, their attitude towards books. Christine was a librarian, quiet, bookish and a fan of travel books and biographies. She’d do  mused Doris, a real book lover.

She wasn’t so sure about Pam, though.  Pam loved her wine and offered  an inexhaustible supply of dirty jokes . She only borrowed one book a month and didn’t appear to particularly enjoy reading .  It transpired she was married to a very ambitious eye surgeon, who was hell bent on making his first million by the age of 35 .  Enough said .

In December Pam spilled a bottle – a whole bottle  –  of wine  over a stack of 10 books. Well! Doris’s lips tightened. This wouldn’t do at all.

 Doris was still working as a volunteer at the local library, and being very careful in the kitchen, with the old kettle. Honestly, you’d think that they would have bought a new one after that awful accident, wouldn’t you?

 “ I don’t know what we do without Doris, a real book lover and such a worker,” said the librarian and, “ Do  be careful when you leave the library Doris, those trucks come over the bridge at a hell of a speed. Last week one of those big breweries’ trucks came over the rise at the bridge too fast, and very nearly ran over old Mr van Tonder, you know him Doris? Old man with a stick? “

Yes, Doris knew old Mr van Tonder . He’d had such a lucky escape, hadn’t he? Hmmm.

 Doris cornered Pam at the next Book Club meeting, very smartly, before Pam got stuck into the wine. “ Pam, “ she said cosily “I’ve been meaning to ask you, I know busy you are, but I was just wondering whether you could help me out next week at our local library, my usual helper has gone to Hermanus for two week. Do  you think you……? “

 Oh dear.

                                                                        THE END

If you enjoyed the story, perhaps you would consider making a small donation by way of an amazon.com gift voucher? Due to the negative exchange rate between our currencies, it is too expensive for me to keep my Kindle running. For details, kindly email me on nyassa@telkomsa.net  

….

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NOT ANOTHER HARDBOILED EGG!


 Oh no! Breakfast time and I’m facing yet another cold, hard boiled egg – uuuurrrggh, followed by groan.  Non-South African readers will probably be thinking: why on earth start the day with a cold hard boiled egg? Why not cook something you like?

 Good question .I would if I were able to.  But thanks to our constant load-shedding (South African term for rolling power blackout, which occur daily) and are  often scheduled bang on breakfast time, cold food is the only option. Of course I always have a flask of boiled water on hand, so at least there’s the consolation of a cuppa. Plus I keep a small stock of hard-boiled eggs in the ‘fridge. But, after many repeat performances, hard boiled eggs at 0800 lose their appeal.

And no, I can’t eat breakfast later, once power is restored because I need to take a handful of meds straight after breakfast etc etc.  Any readers over 60 will relate to my predicament.

But: it could be worse. My eldest daughter is currently in Zimbabwe and reports they have been without water or power for the last 24 hours.  The entire city, not just their own property. Apparently 10 to 12 hour power cuts are commonplace. I have learnt not to moan to #1 daughter about Load Shedding, because she jumps all over me and reminds me of the situation in Zim, and firmly states we have nothing to complain about. Relatively speaking, she’s right.

But I’m very weary of cold hard boiled eggs.

And I’m even more weary of Eskom’s mismanagement and corruption. Eskom  is our national power utility and our nation is now reaping the whirlwind from years of  Eskom neglect, mismanagement and corruption. A new CEO was appointed two years ago, and is making valiant efforts to keep the  leaky, doomed ship afloat. I wouldn’t have his job for all the money in the world.

 Just thinking about Eskom gives me a headache, so I’ll stop moaning, make a cuppa and return to my book.  

 

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 A 24 HOUR QUARANTINE FOR MY TIME-TRAP


Whilst digging around in my Archive File, I found this post, written in August 2014. You can tell it’s  an old post, by the brand names mentioned. But the ideas are still valid. And now, in 2022, I am the happy owner of a Smartphone. And yes, it is another HUGE Time Trap

I can hear your response: Huh? What’s a Time-trap?

Here is a brief guide to  help identify the pests:

  • They’re generally rectangular
  • The casing is usually black, grey or silver; but they also come in funky colours, much loved by the young
  • The small traps house their own power supply, but the larger ones require connections to the mains
  • Their tribal names may include Nokia, Blackberry, Sony, HP, Apple, Samsung, Dell, Lenovo – do I need to go on?

Who wouldn’t rather be watching TV, or playing games on their i-phone/tablet, or surfing the net on their PC, rather than dutifully editing their novel? Come on, ‘fess up!  We’re only human, after all.

I’m indebted to my writing friend, Dawn, who acts as my Writer’s Conscience, on writing issues, and she introduced me to this hold-all term. And I thought: Yesss! She’s right (again!) I know just what she means.

So on Saturday I vowed not to turn on my PC which is my biggest writing Time-trap. I don’t own a Smartphone, and my elderly Nokia mobile serves as a useful tool and nothing more. TV? My mother brainwashed me years ago about the crime of wasting daylight hours by watching TV, so that takes care of that.

For me the PC  is a magic carpet to anywhere in the world – or the universe, for that matter. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of entertainment and information, where I’ve spent many happy exploratory hours instead of working on my novel, on my memoir, on my blog posts, on my competition entries – the list is endless. Sigh.

So I resolutely left the PC sulking in its corner on Saturday and accomplished so much without its evil influence – I was quite astonished by the end of the day, when I climbed onto the couch, for some mental chewing gum i.e. TV.  I tidied out cupboards, sorted out my craft material – throwing out a ton of STUFF in the process; I made huge in-roads on a craft project that’s lurked around for months; I wrote a book review;  I mended my favourite yellow jersey; I read 4 chapters of a novel that I’ve been struggling to finish; I made West African Sweet Potato Stew for supper, and last of all, I made my cat deliriously happy by providing under-cat heating once I flopped onto the couch.

All in all a good day. Today I switched the beast on, but it’s been strictly business, including typing this blog post.

Give it a whirl: go on a PC fast – you’ll save power, do a million worthy things, and feel so virtuous at the end of the day. In fact, I’m going to declare one quarantine day every week. I might even finish the tapestry I’ve been avoiding for the last two years. Stranger things have happened.

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SEPTEMBER MEANS SPRING, AND FLOWERS!


Last week’s post was dark and I thought flower pics would be a welcome change.

Due to the aridity and our famous South Easter wind, gardening in the Tableview area requires hardy indigenous plants, so lush flower borders do not survive; ditto rose gardens.

 As some of you know, I love flowers and September is the one and only month, when my valiant garden does produce flowers, albeit for a short 5 or 6 weeks in Spring. I love the burst of colour, the tall aloe spikes, the salmon pink geraniums, and my beloved  mauve geraniums. Plus the white Michaelmas daisies, the bushy lavender, the orange and yellow bulbine, and  a few tentative Freesias braving the increasing heat, and gathering winds.

The Pot of Gold Creeper, brightening up the back corner wall
Can you spot the lizard in the bottom left corner? Lavender loves our dry sandy soil and hot summers
Mauve geraniums, yellow aloes

My property is bounded by ugly grey vibracrete walling, and my mission in life is to disguise it with greenery. Bearing in mind the soil is literally beach sand, plus the unfavourable conditions, it has taken seventeen years for my garden to expand, and disguise most of that ugly grey concrete. I’m not a fan of the colour grey – give me green, give me colour, and then more green, please!

The Roman writer, Cicero remarked: If you have a Library and a Garden, you have everything you need. I couldn’t agree more.

So I walked around my small garden, clicking away, and my friend at Roy Reed Photography edited my pics.  Enjoy!

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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CAPE FLATS KIND


There I was, pushing my little supermarket trolley and dithering on the edge of the  big pedestrian crossing, trying to gauge whether the oncoming cars were going to stop for me (not always a given, in good old SA) when “COME!” commanded stern voice in a heavy Cape Flats accent.

 I jerked up my head, scanned the sharp, trendy haircut, the powerful, squat build, the dark hands, each finger decorated with a silver ring and my mind screamed:  Cape Flats Gangster!!  Standing firmly mid-crossing, he guided me via my elbow over the crossing, grumbling: they never stop at these crossings no more, directing a baleful glance at the oncoming drivers.

We reached the safety of the pedestrian walkway in the parking lot. He solicitously asked if I needed help getting to my car and unloading my groceries? I thanked him, and assured him I didn’t need help.

As I slowly trundled towards my little car, I surreptitiously watched to see which car he entered. Would it be a big flashy 4×4?  A Beemer? But no, he opened the door to a Volvo station wagon.  Hmmm. For all I knew he was a respectable family man, pillar of the community.  Or a gang boss from the Cape Flats. 

Overseas readers will think I’m paranoid. Yes, I am. Gangsterism is endemic on the Cape Flats. This morning’s news bulletin announced the death of two men, by gunshot, assailants unknown, in Bonteheuwel. Police have opened a murder docket and declared the incident to be gang related. I’ve lost count, these shootings are so common.

I’m lucky. I don’t live on the Cape Flats. I live in a gated, walled, electro-fenced community in the middle class  West Coast area. But even so, today’s Community Street WhatsApp bulletin warned that 5 men, armed with knives and sticks, were holding up dog-walkers in our area, stealing cellphones and money.  Still think I’m paranoid ?

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THE MYSTIC VEG


What do these stalks foretell?

I have long firmly maintained that truth is stranger than fiction.

For example: Jemima Packington (who titles her psychic services as ‘Mystic Veg’) makes her predictions by tossing stalks of asparagus up into the air, and studies the patterns formed when they land. I suppose her method is no stranger than a Sangoma tossing the bones, or the ancient Romans consulting the entrails,  or Mystic Meg gazing into her crystal ball. She must have a good sense of humour, to call herself Mystic Veg.

Anyway, she has an impressive track record.  See link to article below. And two of her recent predictions are that HM King Charles III will abdicate next year and be succeeded by Prince William, and Boris Johnson will take over from Liz Truss.  Hmmm. Time will tell.

https://metro.co.uk/2022/01/01/fortune-teller-known-as-mystic-veg-rev

What do you think?

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RAIN, BEASTIES & BIRDS


My long awaited visit to my Kwa-Zulu Natal family finally arrived, after a two-and-a half year wait –  Corona Virus being  the culprit here – I flew out of Cape Town to Durban, on 11 April, filled with excitement. Which was short-lived, because as I landed so did 300mm of rain over the following 24 hours .

The rain, flooding and damage to land, property and people were of Biblical proportions. The disaster has been thoroughly covered by the media, so I thought I’d focus on the tiny, personal details that momentarily lightened  my visit amongst the rain and pervading chaos.

The family live in horse territory, the Jockey Academy is located in the neighbourhood, and most of the surrounding properties have resident horses. I don’t know about you, but I find the sight of peacefully grazing horses very soothing.

And now we come to the beasties, mentioned in the title.  A daily task, efficiently carried out by SuperMaid, is to rid the office of frogs.  Yes, you heard me. Little black frogs. They thrive and multiply in the wet conditions, and – who knows why – enter the office and lurk behind the furniture. Looking for a respite from the rain? Who knows? Anyway, SuperMaid briskly whisks them into her red bucket, and decants them out into a distant part of the garden. But next day, there are more frogs hiding behind the desks. She’s very cheerful about de-frogging the office, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve nicknamed her  SuperMaid.

We lunched at the Mushroom Farm in the Hillcrest area, and after days of constant rain, enjoyed the sunshine on the veranda. We watched the resident hens diligently scratching in the flower beds, and patrolling amongst the lunch tables,  in search of fallen crumbs .The resident peacocks stalk about the property  and are  ever ready to snatch up a donated  titbit. No flowerbed foraging for them,  they march up to your table and screech!

The bird theme continues elsewhere on the property, with a magnificent rooster mural on the side of the SPCA’s book kiosk.

 Very al fresco, and very Kwa-Zulu Natal country style. A great contrast to the city style coffee shops I frequent in Cape Town. And much more fun!

  • Pics taken by me, except for the final 2 rooster pics – thanks to Lauren Grose. All pics edited by
  • Roy Reed Photography, Durban

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HELLO! HERE I AM AGAIN


Hiya! I’m back! 

I’m not sure what to name my 6 month absence: a hiatus?  a sabbatical?  winter hibernation? Whatever it was, I’m back at the keyboard.

More posts to follow shortly.

Table Mountain, from Big Bay, Cape Town

Meanwhile: Enjoy the pic of our beautiful mountain taken this morning from Big Bay, looking across the bay.  Spring is hesitantly creeping in,  wild  flowers are decorating our roadside verges and open fields, but the wind is still icy even though the sun is shining.

Watch this space!  See you later …….

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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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