Category Archives: HUMOUR

THE PLEASURES AND PERILS OF SOLO LIVING


I’m going to start with the pleasures, before I get on to the topic of the perils. I enjoy living alone. I’ve earned it. After years of boarding school, followed by life in a girls’ hostel, then marriage and family, having my own solo space is a privilege and a joy. Plus, I’m a cranky old lady with an equally cranky old cat, so not an ideal housemate. Chocolat and I have worked out a harmonious sharing agreement. She dictates, and I salute. Works well.

One of the solo pleasures is having control of the TV remote. I never have to watch sports programmes which bore me witless and neither do I have to endure horror movies, or ultra violent crime series. And, perhaps best of all: I don’t have to endure the male habit of surfing restlessly from channel to channel, flicking endlessly from programme to programme, just when I’d started to watch and enjoy something.

Another major pleasure is being able to eat meals ad lib, ad hoc and add plenty of fruit and yoghurt, please. For one glorious week, after my younger daughter’s wedding, I ate trifle for breakfast. I left others squabbling over the left-overs from the braai*, and quietly removed the remnants of the luxury trifle. The most sinfully delicious  breakfast week ever.
Now I have to relate one of the perils of solo living, having cheered myself with happy reminiscences. Bolstered my courage, as it were.

Spiders. Big, enormous spiders. Lurking ominously on the bathroom ceiling. At nine thirty at night. I don’t do well with spiders. Little ones I bravely swoosh into an empty jar and hurl them outside into the garden. But a spider the size of a teacup saucer? Uh-uh. Not going to happen.

My knowledgeable friend tells me it must have been a rain spider. Thanks for the helpful info. That night, I neither knew nor cared. The crunch was: the spider and I could not remain under the same roof. Especially as I was preparing for bed. Can you imagine? An inquisitive spider exploring my entire house, including my bedroom ? Aaarrrggghhh.

Summoning every speck of courage, I armed myself with a broom and despatched the insect. Awful. And then I had to sleep with my bedside light switched on all night, just in case … irrational, I know. Ridiculous – I know.

I told you, I don’t like spiders. To the extent I’m not going to Google a pic to head up this post. I just can’t. Consider this a public exposure of my Achilles heel.

*braai – barbecue

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Filed under DAILY LIFE IN CAPE TOWN, HUMOUR

*(JAP) INTERNET PASSWORDS


 

 

Whilst happily browsing in a bookstore on Saturday, and fighting the urge to buy yet another notebook, I found a spiral bound, hard-covered notebook  with the title “INTERNET PASSWORDS”.  My first reaction was: what a good idea!  All the passwords in one place, quick and easy reference. No more ratty little bits of paper.  And then I thought: Hang on a mo. If the password notebook is on your desk, or in public view, then what is to stop other people from snooping? Or – even worse –ransacking your bank account? Spending thousands on your on-line shopping sites?  Maybe not such a good idea. I wonder where you keep your passwords?  Because I have different passwords for most of my accounts, I have to write them down, that’s for sure.  And I’m not telling you where I keep them. Yes:  I confess to having  a nasty suspicious nature. Actually, the word ‘password’ is a misnomer.  Swear words usually ensue, on this topic.  Especially when trying to persuade some nitpicking electronic genie to accept your new password.  Too short.  Too long. Not enough numeric symbols. Too many alpha symbols.   **!!@#!**&%#$@!!!!**

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

 

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Filed under COMPUTERS, HUMOUR

GRANNY GOES GAMING


 

 

Proof – I really did go! Here’s the ticket stub, and the indestructible, hard to remove armband that gets you through the door.

Why? I hear you ask.I’m a self-confessed wrinkly, who doesn’t play electronic games. All true.  But I’m a dedicated fan of The Big Bang Theory  and brainwashed by the Uber Nerds, I was hoping for a Comicon style display of glorious Star Wars costumes down at the Gaming Expo. I have to say, I was disappointed. I spotted very few. What I did see was enough  PC Monitors and big screens to thrill every gamer in Cape Town. Nerdvana heaven, without a doubt.

The gamers were there in sober blacks and greys,  throngs of spindly teens with ratty locks and deathly white complexions, clearly unaccustomed to the Great Outdoors or meat and three veg. I had to resist the maternal urge to dash up and force feed them. There were quite a number of hefty Dad-type men in attendance too, and not all of them were clutching kids by the scruff of their  hyped up necks.  Some women, but clearly on kid duty, and I spotted only one of my contemporaries. These events are not really Granny territory, but hey!  You never know until you give it a bash.

Bash being the operative word. All I could see on the mega-screens were un-ending battles with exotic creatures demolishing opponents with brilliant red starbursts. And not to forget the death-defying cars zooming through canyon-like cities. I’m not a boy. I could care less about fast cars. Give me style and padded luxury any day. James – bring round the Rolls.

 

 

 

Another reason for my attendance were the advertised Board Games. I’m looking for a particular board game and hoped to find it there, but no luck. To my astonishment I spotted big piles of boxes of Monopoly and Cluedo on the Games stands. There was merchandise to gladden every gamers’  heart: figurines, hats, costumes,  and I even spotted Harry Potter lingering over the trinkets.

 

 

The pic I missed: a 7 year old little boy, wearing a brown Jedi robe, with an enormous fluorescent green light sabre clipped to his belt. The sabre was so long, it trailed on the ground behind him. Ag shame.

Never miss an opportunity to wear your pink Princess outfit.  Despite all the sexy girls prancing round in lycra, the Pink Princess was the prettiest girl there.

 

 

Will I go to another Gaming Expo?  I very much doubt it. Unless the cast of The Big Bang Theory happen to be in attendance …

Because   my faithful photographer Nina could not accompany me , I am responsible for all the blurry, second-rate cellphone  pics – photography is  not my strong point.

 

 

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Filed under COMPUTERS, EXPLORING CAPE TOWN, HUMOUR, TV SHOWS

*(JAP) SLOW BLOGGING


 

Today I discovered a new literary blog  on WordPress – dolcebellezza  thanks to the industrious blogger on bookertalk.wordpress.com  who is a marvellous source of info on literary topics.  Anyway, when I was reading the About  section on dolcebellezza,  she made an interesting remark on the topic of Slow Blogging, saying that having reached her 10th Blogging Anniversary (I’m impressed) she’s come to realise the  satisfaction of Slow Blogging. The capitalisation is mine, not hers. In essence it’s about  no longer being driven, or feeling you have to blog daily – or weekly – or instantly – whatever crazy targets you have set for yourself. Instead you blog whenever you have the inclination  and take time to enjoy the process. Kind of like the  Slow Food movement  I suppose? Things that take a long time to cook, whether prose or pumpkin, generally taste much nicer when you get to savour that deep flavour.

Theoretically I have a target of one blog per week, for each of my two blogs * but it doesn’t always turn out that way. Does it matter? Hell no. I blog because I enjoy it, so  less of the whip and treadmill technique can only be good news.

*(Just a Paragraph:  when I’m short of time and/or inspiration, I keep my blog ticking over with ‘just a paragraph’: random thoughts, reflections, comments, ideas … little snippets)

 

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HARASSED BY A HADEDA


Over the last two months I’ve been harrassed by a HADEDA . I can hear my overseas readers saying: Huh? A what? Over to that fountain of knowledge, Wikipedia:

The hadeda ibis is found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa in open grasslands, savanna and wetlands, as well as urban parks, school fields, green corridors and large gardens . It has an extremely loud and distinctive “haa-haa-haa-de-dah” call—hence the name. The call is often heard when the birds are flying or are startled, or when the birds communicate socially, for example early in the morning in residential suburbs.

The bird cheekily flies onto my patio and proceeds to rootle around in my pot plants, with its long, sharp bill, hunting for what I’m not quite sure. In the process it chucks out clods of soil, but this is not the main reason for my irritation. What Wikipedia politely omits telling you is that the Hadeda is the messiest bird . It leaves huge, liquid  splotches of white and khaki  droppings whenever it visits – on the table, on the bricks – everywhere. Yuck!

I can cope with its loud raucous calls. I can live with its foraging for food in my plant pots, but using my patio as a public convenience is altogether too much.  Need I tell you it times its visits while I’m absent and Chocolat, I regret to say, hides in her Cat Cave, and does nothing to defend her territory.  Mind you, it is a very large bird. Chocolat will tackle small to medium sized birds up to and including doves, but clearly the Hadeda  is not a viable mouthful. It’s a wise cat that knows its limitations!

 

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A DAB HAND WITH THE BATH SPONGE?


 

One of the many recent political spats in South Africa, and trust me, these happen on a daily basis, is over our new Finance Minister taking his wife with him on an official visit to Paris. Questions are being asked: why was Mrs G in the official party? What did she contribute? Etc.

All good questions, seeing we are talking about apparently  (yet more) wasteful expenditure of our hard-earned taxes.

And somehow my aged brain dredged up the mischievous memory  of a married couple I knew way back in the mid-60s. He was a jockey, so naturally he was a very small man. His good wife was a very solidly built formidable Afrikaans lady, almost twice his size. My husband told me there was much mirth in the Jockeys’ Change-room, when the husband confessed that he never ever took a bath unless his wife bathed with him. Together in the bathtub, you must understand. Given his tiny size and her large size, I’m sure they both  fitted nicely into the bathtub. Despite my questioning I never discovered whether she washed his back? Massaged his aching muscles? Or maybe she saved his skinny little bod from vanishing down the plughole ? Who knows?

Now our new Finance Minister appears to be a very slender man, so maybe his good lady is a dab hand with the bath sponge?  We will never know, but maybe it’s a reasonable pretext for taking your wife with you to Paris on a business trip? Let’s face it, which woman doesn’t want to visit Paris?

But, and it’s a reasonable quibble,  preferably not at the South African Taxpayers’ expense.

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THE FREEDOM OF UNSUBSCRIBING


 

 

You have no idea how liberating it is to tick the Unsubscribe box  and confirm that you no longer wish to receive e-mails from  xyz  site. 

Let’s face it: over time one’s interest can, do and should change. Why not? You’re not dead are you? Life flows swiftly by and some interests prove to have been but a passing fancy, or a big mistake. Did you really think you were going to learn Urdu on-line from Babbel.com?  Get a grip!

So I unsubscribed from the writing sites that were clogging up my Yahoo Inbox. Right now I’m confining myself to blogging and the occasional letter to long-time friends. I’m not writing short stories or working on a novel. So why do I need torrents of advice on 20 Sure fire tricks to get that Novel Finished!  or  Revision strategy?  or  How to Write a Killer Query letter   or Find your Agent, make a new Friend!

My Yahoo InBox should be breathing an enormous sigh of relief. I know I am.  Wading through the advice swamp was time consuming, to say the least of it. Now all I have to do is wean myself away from Pinterest. Think I’ll leave that until next week.  Softly softly catchee monkey, and all that.

And I’m firmly resisting the odd stabs of FOMO.  Do you know what that is? Fear of missing out.  Some genius has identified it as a new trend, symptomatic of our insatiable craving for electronic content.  They may be on to something. But: I will be strong! Subscriptions – be gone!

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POTTERING THROUGH MY NOTEBOOKS


I’m a great potter-er. Sunday is a good day to potter around my house, doing minor tasks, playing with my Stuff. Even after my recent purge (see my recent post about The Guys and the Grand Purge) I still have plenty of Stuff left to play with. Believe me.

I was paging through my  old notebooks, dating back to the early 1990s.  Regrettably I have a weakness for notebooks. I can’t resist them. And don’t let me find a sale offering bargain price notebooks, because we all know what will happen.  A quirky cover? Cute Cats? Gold and sparkly ?  Ka-ching. Ka-ching.

So there I was, reminiscing with my notebooks when I was struck by a thought: what will happen to my notebooks when I die? Will the family be sufficiently interested to read them? Always assuming, of course, that they can read them. My handwriting varies from the semi-legible to a jerky scrawl …

Added to which I have developed a  series of abbreviations over the years, which enables me  to write quickly, and the chances of anybody else working out what I  intended, are not good. I spent years slaving behind a typewriter, and latterly a keyboard, which means I can type much, much faster than I can write. I can type at the speed of my thoughts. Very satisfactory, and also legible. But obviously notebooks are handwritten, in a variety of places – coffee shops, aeroplanes, retreat centres, other people’s spare bedrooms – anywhere and everywhere, and the  notes are not always legible.  Even to my eye.

The notebooks contain ideas for future  blog posts, draft poems, notes to self, articles, writing exercises, outpourings of angst, lists, titles of books and authors and  must-reads. And so on. Let’s face it: because I’m not a famous writer, nor a noted social diarist, it’s doubtful that anybody else will be remotely interested in my scribbling.

On the topic of noted social diarists, some very famous people e.g. Winston Churchill, or famous  writers e.g. Noel Coward  kept detailed – and regular – diaries. I own a copy of a fascinating compilation of diary entries, arranged by date and kicking off around the era of  the mid 1660’s (Samuel Pepys)  up to the late 20th century  (Alec Guinness, Brian Eno, Andy Warhol), titled The Assassin’s Cloak,  edited by Irene & Alan Taylor.   Of course, the social diarists entries are a delightful  mix of gossip, innuendo and scandal, whilst the politicians are dealing with weighty matters of state, or declaring war and so forth.  A far cry from my notebooks.

Thinking it over, I should probably tear out the written pages, burn them, and donate the remaining unused notebook to a charitable scheme collecting stationery for  disadvantaged school kids.  That’s what I should do . I probably won’t get around to it, and my family will stare in dismay at the pile of notebooks and say : “What the hell are we going to do with these?” Good question.

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THE GRAND PURGE


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Not of my body, let me hasten to add. Maybe I chose a misleading title for this piece.

No, no, dear readers: of my overflowing cupboards.  A blitz on the dreaded STUFF, which I have written about before. I’m not a hoarder, but it’s astonishing how stuff accumulates. Gifts, raffle prizes, sale bargains, retail madness. Regardless of the source, my cupboards are overfull.

My friend Emily inspired me to phone The Guys – she used them when she had a mega-purge of her very large house. Result : ruthlessly tossed mountains of STUFF – ornaments, bric brac, travel souvenirs, you name it –into the pile it went . The Guys arrived in their bakkie, armed with cartons, crates and ready cash (yay!) packed it, loaded it, and drove away.

I spent a hot, sweaty Sunday extracting unused item – you never know, one day I might … Sound familiar?  Out came the pristine manual typewriter, in its metal case, that I’d been keeping for the day when I retreated to the Karoo to a farm cottage sans electricity, and sans electronic aids,  to write my award winning novel. Dream on, lady. Never going to happen. Out it went.

Extra flower vases  acquired from florists’  arrangements, sent by daughters. You can always send me flowers for a birthday, I love them  – but what to do with the vases afterwards? You sell them to The Guys, that’s what!

Old, chipped ornaments, which I was definitely going to repair one day . Truly, that is the deadliest phrase in my life: one day I will …   Complete the sentence. The One Day tasks sink below a wave of accounts to be paid, vet appointments, medical appointments, meetings. No to mention the craft projects. Not even going there!  And so it goes. As you well know. And one day  is yet to arrive.

Out went my once prized collection of stone eggs. I went through a phrase when I was intrigued by gemstones, and it was fun to collect them. That phase has passed. Now I’m bewitched by postcards and Postcrossing. Lotsa fun. Can you see the butterfly mind effect at work here?

I assembled the rejects on my dining room table. There was the gigantic electric wok which was so big it wouldn’t fit into any cupboard, so has been sulking, unused, in the garage. Out it went. Here was a box with a new light fitting for the bathroom. Never installed, for technical reasons. And here – a real blast from the past: a box of stiffy disks. Remember those? PC’s are no longer manufactured with a slot in which to insert them, so …

The box of silver Apostle teaspoons that you can’t put in the dishwasher? Sorry. Bye bye. No longer of use.  But the wad of money The Guys gave me is definitely of use. Time, effort and sweat well spent. I plan to spend the cash on theatre tickets. I am definitely not buying any more STUFF.  That’s a promise!

 

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MARCH 2017 UPDATE FROM CHOCOLAT


 

 

I am happy to report that I am now able to resume my normal routine of sunbathing and napping. My Personal Assistant is back on duty and has stopped lounging around on our bed. About time too.

However I must admit the Junior Substitute  PA did a good job. My meal schedule was uninterrupted and she certainly brushed me more often than my PA does.

All in all, it’s a relief to be back  to my  usual routine. Nurse-maiding a human is terribly time consuming and frankly, not my designated occupation.  I’ll leave you now, I have a date with my favourite cushion on my veranda chair.

 

(Thanks to Regine Lord for her superb pics; all pics copyright RL)

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