On January 1st, 2021, I packed away my Christmas decoration table display, and removed my bead wreath from my front door grille.
Next task was to changeover the calendars. Down came the 2020 Wildlife calendar, up went the pretty Paws and Petals calendar. Lovely! a colourful, calming picture of cats posed decoratively amongst the flowers. Inspiration above my worktable. Great.
Final chore: to write up the birthday dates into my new 2021 diary, without which no one would receive my enthusiastic rendering on their birthday of ¶♫Happy Birthday to youuuu ¶♫…. sung by Yours Truly, somewhat out of tune, but with feeling.
Oh what a happy glow of accomplishment! Bolstered by the happy knowledge that I decided not to make any New Year Resolutions this year. Note to all my readers who were nervously anticipating strange homemade gifts this coming Christmas (see previous post). Friends, it was but a passing fancy. Not an iron-clad resolution.
So: all organized, everything under control. I was prepped, ready for 2021.
But unfolding events on Wednesday 6 January in Washington, USA shattered my sangfroid. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight, va BBC TV News, of rioting Trump supporters storming the Capitol Building, and invading it. I was shocked. I was appalled. I was stunned. To put it mildly.
I live in Africa. I am well accustomed to news/footage of dictators fomenting riot and resolution when elections don’t go their way. But Americans? No! Surely not! Isn’t the USA meant to be the bastion of democracy, the leader of the Free World, the leader of the West? But if a narcissistic, rabble rouser is Top Dog, then look out. All the high flown ideals are tossed onto the rubbish heap, and mob rule is encouraged.
Which brings me to Napoleon Buonaparte, Emperor of France. I have been watching a fascinating TV documentary on the Corsican soldier, inspired by visions of classical heroes like Julius Caesar, soldier, leader, emperor extraordinaire – Napoleon’s role model.
A brilliant military strategist, Buonaparte tamed the post-French Revolution Mob chaos, brought order, rule of law, dignity and imperial status to his country. He unified France, which flourished and became a solid, established, modern society. History has recognized Napoleon’s genius.
How will History judge Donald Trump, I wonder? An aberration of the Social Media Age?
I watch unfolding events in the USA with horrified fascination. My feelings today can be summed up by a meme currently floating around WhatsApp and it crisply states:
I’d like to cancel my subscription to 2021. I’ve experienced the free 7 day trial and I am not interested.
Because I’m hiding away from the dreaded Second Wave, I’m watching a lot of programmes on the Home Channel, and I’m all fired up. Next year, friends and family will open their gifts and gasp: Did YOU make this? Yourself? Whether the gasps will be of horror or admiration remains to be seen.
How hard can it be? Knock up a batch of shortbread? Tick. Knock up a batch of Fir-tree shaped biscuits? Tick. Bash out a couple of fruit cakes mid-October, buy a bottle of brandy, and tenderly dose the cakes at weekly intervals. Tick. These I can do. Easy peasy.
Ditto making chutney when apricot and tomatoes are plentiful. Tick. Doable. Provided we aren’t plagued with load-shedding in 2021, hello Eskom, are you listening?
But there are other options: apparently all I need is bunch of willow branches, a stout pair of pliers, iron determination and I will weave a batch of wooden placemats, or maybe a small laundry hamper. The relentlessly enthusiastic English TV anchor made it look so simple. Now where am I going to source willow branches? Do willows even grow in this province, I wonder? Maybe Karree tree branches would work out? This is so exciting!
And then, I nearly forgot: Knitted items , and crochet whatsits. Why, I saw an adorable little crocheted snowflake in a craft magazine, only yesterday. Never mind that the South African Christmas season is blazingly hot, and not a snowflake in sight. Details, details! Don’t be a wet blanket! Of course, I’ll have to learn how to crochet, but that’s all on YouTube, isn’t it ? No problem.
Or I can raid my trove of wallpaper samples, ( note to self: start collecting wallpaper samples); cut out floral bits and bobs and make individual handsewn greetings cards; or decorate the cover of the handmade book that I’ve conjured up out of thick manilla paper, and magicked up a cover out of an old leather coat that I’ve cut up. Must say I have reservations about cutting up an old leather coat. Even if it is Pleather. Is this a good idea, I wonder? Again, the TV anchor was amazingly nonchalant about attacking an old leather jacket with an enormous pair of shears. Mind you, it was a nasty shade of green, so what the heck.
Really, the choice is dazzling, and I haven’t even got around to the knitted and sewn items. I mean, socks, scarves, beanies, dinky little purses. Positively overwhelming.
Oh! the agonies of choice! A greener, more thoughtful Christmas. Thoughtfully curated gifts, personally designed and laboriously made; no more raids on the Chinese plastic shop.
The only thing between me and a homespun Christmas in 2021 are the following: a glue gun, a craft cutting mat, a super-sharp craft knife, an awl, pliers, a steel ruler, paint, decorative trinkets, buttons, raffia, fabric strips, a collection of wallpaper samples, fabrics samples, buttons, sequins, dinky charms, a ton of glass and ceramic beads, oh …. and a lot more besides.
My word, I’m going to be busy in the New Year. Alternatively I could just go online on Black Friday and press the plastic. Takelot.com could see me around the end of November. Watch this space. And if you don’t want a home-made gift, I suggest you start planning your home removal right now! You have been warned.
Boxing Day arrives in a burst of sunshine, decorated with a cool breeze and its obviously Beach Weather. So I grab my towel and cozzie, crank up the VeeDub, and drive to Melkbostrand. Because I’m an early bird, I actually find parking, and also a free patch of sand to deposit my towel, beach bag and book. My spirits lift. Christmas Day is always a bad day for me . Too many painful memories, no prezzies, no big family lunch, no …. Stop it, stop it, I scold myself, no wallowing! My eyes are watering. I sternly tell myself focus on the seagulls, the gentle incoming waves, the ozoney-suntan oily smell of the beach.
There’s plenty of activity. People are being towed along the beach by ecstatic dogs on leads, some owners semi -running to keep up with their joyful dogs.
But a huge St Bernard has other ideas, jerks free of the leash, and runs full tilt into an elderly lady sitting nearby, in an old fashioned striped canvas deckchair, complete with canvas canopy. She’s shrouded in towels, scarves, enormous sun hat, huge dark sunglasses, long green skirt topped with a long-sleeved red and white striped shirt, and seemingly absorbed in her knitting. So the express train weight of a runaway St Bernard capsizes the old dear, chair and all. Confusion reigns.
I dash over, kick the St Bernard who yelps and looks confused. I glare at the panting, red faced owner who has finally lumbered up, ineffectually waving his arms, and too out of breath to do anything but make a feeble lunge for his runaway hound, who promptly takes off again, at speed.
I leave him to it, and set about righting the capsized chair and its bewildered occupant.
Once the old dear is set to rights, reunited with hat, sunglasses, knitting, towels and cushions, I take a good look. She has the whitest skin I’ve ever seen. No wonder she’s shrouded herself from the sun’s invasive rays. She’s even wearing red and white socks – in this heat.
“Thanks you, my dear,” she says slowly in heavily accented English. “That was a surprise, for sure! Thank you for rescuing me. My name is Klara. And your name, my dear?”
“Umm, I’m Susie. Are you here alone? Should I fetch you some water, or a coffee maybe?” I gesture to the mobile coffee cart further down the beach.
“No, no, I’m alright, thank you. Just a little adventure. Nothing serious. Wait ‘til I tell Klaus. He will laugh a lot, I know,” she says cheerfully. She points to the surf where a sturdy old man is emerging onto the beach. He’s wearing striped red and white baggy boardshorts, has a green and white striped bandanna tied around his head. His bushy, white beard cascades downwards, pushed upwards and outwards by his splendid, solid tummy .
“Oh, Oh, Klara! I go for a swim and what happens? You are alright? “ Again the heavy accent. German maybe? Or Scandinavian perhaps?
“Ja, Klaus, I’m okay, Susie here chased away the dog and helped me up and all is well. Don’t worry,” and she beamed at her husband, who huffed out a big sigh of relief .
Klara hands Klaus a towel, and he starts to towel off.
“We do love the beach, especially after our hard Northern winter,” Klara informs me, “but I have to be careful of the sun. Klaus gets outside more than I do, so he can wear the swimming costume. And you, my dear? You are living here? You are very brown. So your skin is used to the African sun.”
Klaus has departed with the beach bag towards the change rooms.
“You are here alone? Where is your family?”
“ Ummm – I …. I …. “ I can feel my eyes brimming.
“I’m so sorry my dear,” says Klara, removing her sunglasses, and examining me with a piercing, clear blue gaze. “Life is cruel, ja? It is especially difficult at Christmas. But I will remember you at Christmas time. Next year will be easier, I am sure”.
Tears well up again, and “Sorry, gotta go, “ I mumble, “take care, look after yourselves, have a nice holiday.”
Klara nods, carefully replaces her glasses and resumes her knitting .
I stumble off in the direction of my bag, stop at the mobile cart for a coffee to regain my composure, and find a nearby sand dune where I can settle down to read. I look around for the old couple when I leave the beach, but they’re nowhere to be seen.
That was a year ago, and now its Boxing Day again.
On Christmas Eve I watched the Royal Command Variety show, drank too much whiskey, and went to bed too late. Even though I slept heavily I was vaguely conscious of a thumping and bumping coming from the roof. Burglars? Stray cats? My whiskey induced coma held me captive in bed.
The strangest thing happened on Christmas morning.
I surfaced pretty late, and once my blurry gaze cleared, I saw … At the end of my bed? No way! A lumpy parcel wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, tied with tinsel and sporting a prickly sprig of real holly over the knot. What? Real holly? It prickled like hell. I sucked my bleeding finger as I hunted for a gift tag. There was no gift tag.
I blinked. Too much 100 Pipers is one thing, and a hefty hangover is an old friend, but a mystery Christmas gift on the end of my bed was another thing entirely. I staggered through the house, checking for open doors, or smashed windows but found nothing untoward.
After a mega strong cup of tea, I cautiously snipped through the tinsel and jumped back. Nothing happened. So: not a parcel bomb. I prodded the parcel with my scissors. The paper crackled but nothing happened. Okaaaayyyy – time to unwrap. I discovered a crisp green and white beach towel, wrapped around a knitted floppy red sunhat. Perfect for the Beach on Boxing Day. And, the perfect Christmas gift for me. Huh. Strange.
My foggy brain couldn’t deal with the mystery, so I went to the beach, with my new beach gear. Another perfect sunny day on Melkbos beach. This time no runaway dogs, or elderly Northern tourists.
For two years running, on Christmas morning I’d wake up to a mystery, lumpy parcel at the foot of my bed. The next year I found a beautiful hand knitted red and green cotton bikini; the following year a light green cotton beach wrap, plus a pair of hand knitted socks – you guessed it – in red and green.
But on Year Four – no mystery parcel. Because I woke up next to my new husband Sam, and now I have my own family. We have prezzies galore and mammoth lunches, Family Christmas with bells on. And I’ve made it a family tradition that we have to go to Melkbos Beach on Boxing Day. Its non-negotiable.
When I told Sam my story, and he was as baffled as I am. You don’t suppose? he wondered ….. well, who knows? Does it matter? Christmas time is a time for family, gifts and the joy of giving.
I am sick and tired of discussing Covid, worrying about Covid, listening to news about Covid, and you probably are too. So I’ve dug up an old story to celebrate the beginning of our South African summer, and briefly take our minds off you-know-what.
“I really don’t understand you,” grumbled Yvonne, “first I can’t get you to wear your new Hawaiian shirt, then I can’t get you to wear anything else, and now – now! Heaven knows why? – you’ve gone and bought another identical shirt! What’s going on, Harry? Are you losing your mind – you’ve got one perfectly good orange , white and blue Hawaiian shirt, why buy a second one ? and in the same colours too – if you must have another Hawaiian shirt why not buy a different colour? I’m beginning to think you must be losing it. Harry? Harry!! Are you listening? I suppose not, you never do, you and that bloody newspaper!”
“Mmm,” murmured Harry, fractionally lowering the newspaper, and gazing mildly at his agitated wife. “Wassat? “
“I knew it! You never heard a word, you never pay any attention, I don’t know why I bother!” Yvonne viciously swooped onto the breakfast dishes and marched off to the dishwasher. Harry shrugged, and began smoothing out the newspaper prior to folding it neatly into a rectangle. He always did this. The small, meaningless ritual soothed him amidst the domestic hurricanes.
“I’m off for my morning walk – see you later,” he said, rising speedily and bolting out of the kitchen.
“And that’s another thing : why this sudden passion for walking? “ yelled Yvonne. “For years I begged you to join Walk for Life, but would you? No: of course not! But now you’re retired, you go and walk for hours. I give up!” The only reply was the throaty growl of Harry’s precious diesel bakkie/truck reversing out of the driveway. He drove sedately to the nearby Builders’ Warehouse, parked neatly in his favourite spot, and walked purposefully into the store.
“Morning”, said the Security Guard, echoed by the ladies at the Information Counter, and two nearby cashiers .
“Morning all,” beamed Harry, making a beeline for his haven. He arrived in the Outdoor Living section and fondly surveyed his two most favourite objects in the universe: a pair of striped beach loungers placed invitingly under a gaily striped umbrella, in front of the display of braai/barbecue equipment.
He paused a moment to decide: which would it be today? The yellow, orange and white stripes? Or should he use the blue, white and yellow striped lounger? Both had padded seat and back-rest cushions, and a perfectly angled downward sloping leg and foot rest. Whoever designed the chair deserved a medal. Either way, his shirt toned in with both of them, so it didn’t really matter. He opted for the orange chair. He needed bright cheerful colours after his stormy morning.
Harry settled himself in the orange lounger, nudged the back rest cushion up a fraction – aaahh! That was just right. He wriggled his bum into the maximum comfort position, lightly clasped his hands over his boep/bulging tummy, and breathed out a deep sigh of relief. This was more like it. This was how a man’s retirement should be . A bit of relaxation. Peace and quiet. He didn’t mind the muzak the store played, he quite liked it, he wasn’t a fussy man. His eyelids drooped.
A little later he drowsily opened them, and focused on Mr Venter, the Floor Manager, who tenderly enquired if he could send the cleaning lady with a cup of coffee for Oom/Uncle, respectful generic title? “Baie dankie,” said Harry, “that would be nice.” Man, this was the life!
Funny to think how it all clicked into place two weeks ago when he’d come into the store for six rawl plugs. He‘d felt horribly conspicuous in his ridiculous new, bright blue and orange floral Hawaiian shirt. Khaki was just fine, so far as Harry was concerned. Maybe blue, at a pinch, and a white shirt for Sundays. That was okay. But of course he’d given in under Yvonne’s attack: “You’re retired now Harry, I’ve bought you a new shirt
“Harry, no need to wear your old khaki shirts – put this on. “
Harry slunk into Builders’ Warehouse, and slunk down the aisle, pausing to linger by the Braai Section, like he always did. His eye was drawn to the two brightly striped loungers under their gay umbrella. The orange colour brought a fleeting memory of the bright orange lolly ices his Ouma/Granny would buy him as a Saturday treat. The chairs looked very comfortable. What if he? no – he was in here to buy rawl plugs, not to mess around with beach loungers.
En route to the cash-till he paused again besides the loungers. Oh, what the hell, he decided and quietly sidled under the umbrella. He carefully sat on the orange chair. Very comfortable, he thought. “Oom must swing his legs up too,” instructed a patrolling saleslady ,“then Oom will really feel how comfy our loungers can be. That’s right,” she approved. “Now lay back and close your eyes. See? Instant holiday, né? You test-drive it for a minute or two, and I guarantee you’ll walk out with two flatpacks under your arm!” and she bustled off.
Harry must have drifted off at this point, because when he opened his eyes, a small circle of onlookers surrounded the display, pointing at the dozing pensioner, commenting on how his Hawaiian shirt perfectly matched the chairs. Wives were urging husbands to grab a flatpack quickly before they sold out, and the hubbub brought the Floor Manager at a rapid trot.
He opened his mouth to call Security to eject the cheeky old man from his display, but when he saw the rapidly dwindling pile of flatpacks, he changed his mind. “See,” he announced to the growing circle of spectators, “our chairs are so comfy you just have to relax! Ask Oom here – he’s proof!” and he gestured towards the bewildered pensioner. “No problem, Meneer/Sir, you’re welcome to relax on our loungers any time, you maar/justcarry on, no rush. Enjoy yourself.”
Harry couldn’t have left the store even if he’d wanted to. He was hemmed in by eager customers and trapped on the lounger. When the last flatpack had been snatched up, the Floor Manager homed in on Harry, and suggested he return to the store on Monday, once they’d organized a re-supply of the loungers. “Please Meneer,“ he begged “ and be sure to wear your Hawaiian shirt, it’s perfect!”
And thus Harry found a temporary harbour from the stormy seas of domestic life.
Nina & I enjoyed a lovely sunny day out at a country market. The Bo Berg Market, Piketberg, to be precise. The sun shone, the Spring flowers bloomed brightly, the breeze whispered, people milled around the small tables displaying fruit, veg, home bakes, jam, pickles, pot plants. I bought an unusual mini-rosette Malta geranium to add to the collection on my patio, and an adventurous bunch of Rutabaga. Living dangerously, on top of the mountain. Which we were.
But the real danger was yet to come. Entirely carried away by the plaas/farm, country vibe and general festivity, I agreed to Nina’s suggestion to sample the local braaied/barbecued snoek. Quite forgetting that I don’t like snoek. Why? Take a look at the photo below. More bones than you would ever imagine possible in one small serving of braaied fish.
Snoek is a Cape ‘thing’. I tried it for the first time at Port Nolloth, whilst on a bus tour of the famous Spring flowers, during the mid 1980s, and was totally disconcerted at the vast number of bones that had to be negotiated before I even got near a morsel of fish. Since then I have avoided snoek.
To compound matters, snoek is braaied with a glaze of apricot jam – don’t ask me why, it just is. Like I said: braaied snoek is a Cape ‘thing’. The two toothless Tannies, who were supervising their husbands braaing the snoek, warmly invited us to join them in an upcoming market, a Snoek en Patat Fees /Snoek and Potato Festival, held annually every June, nearby. They guaranteed they’d be there, braaing more snoek!
We smiled, and said, “Ja Tannie, sekerlik/ Yes, Aunty, of course,” and wandered off with our lunch.
On this occasion I managed to eat about .05 grams of fish, and emerged hungry, covered in apricot jam, and reeking of braaied snoek. Plus I had a raging thirst due to the salted fish, and my water bottle was long since emptied. Gah! That’s it: never again!
Notwithstanding this lunch disaster, the sun shone, and the local band played on with diligence and volume. A typical Boland band, music for all occasions: a rousing mixture of Boeremusiek/traditional Afrikaans music, with rock songs. Something for everyone.
Country markets: you can’t beat ’em. P.S. I’m relieved to report that we never made it to the Snoek en Patat Fees. Not a chance. Now or ever.
I’m currently in love with the short-short format: stories that come in at 500 words, or less. So, to make a change from my book themed ramblings, I thought I’d introduce a dash of fiction once a month. I hope you enjoy this first short-short story. It comes in at 438 words. I’m keen to know what you think of the idea. I hope you like it, because I’ve got more, tucked away in my hard-drive.
I should add that this story was prompted by my recent viewing of the movie The Bourne Supremacy. Even if you haven’t seen the movie the plot is not that hard to follow. Enjoy!
JASON BOURNE DRIVES A WHEELIE BIN
Vroom- vroom- eee – skreeee – ka-dooom – vroom – graunch – skreeee: he’s wrenching the wheel left, the crappy old Lada taxi shudders with the strain, ricochets off a silver Volvo, slides on an icy patch, lumbers into an intersection, misses a garbage truck by a whisker, gathers speed on the downhill gradient – his foot flattens the accelerator pedal – sweat stings his eyes, his hands cramp on the wheel, he’s welded to the wheel. His eyes flick up to the rear-view mirror. He’s lost the black Jeep, by some miracle he’s lost the Jeep! Moscow’s snowy streets careen past. He needs to get off this motorway, hide, lose himself, ditch this bright yellow Lada, fade in amongst the muffled walkers on the pavements, bury his hands in his pocket, tuck his chin down into his scarf, become another Tovarich. He’s Jason Bourne. He’s on the run. He’s in Moscow. Someone – he doesn’t know who – is chasing him – could be CIA, could be Russian police, could be Russian Mafia doing the dirty work for his own side, could be … could be … possibilities swirl round his head. His knees ache from colliding with the dashboard, his leg burns after the badly judged jump onto the garbage scow, a molten glass needle stabs his right shoulder every time he turns the wheel, but he’s okay, he’s done it – he’s Jason Bourne and ….
“Jason! Dammit – are you deaf? JASON !!” roars his mother. “How many times do I have to – oh never mind – Jason! Focus! its Wednesday night: the wheelie bin – you haven’t taken out the wheelie bin ! It’s the only thing I ask you to do, and every week it’s the same, nag-nag-nag, why do I have to nag you all the time? “
Jason Brown’s eyes slowly focus on the flushed face, take in the angry arms-on-hips-pose, vaguely register the pitched tone, the raspy breathing.
“Okay, okay – I’m doing it” he mutters, sliding off his bed with all the speed and grace of an exhausted sloth. I bet Jason Bourne never had to push stupid wheelie bins around, I bet he never had a mother who yelled at him all the time, I bet ….
A red-hot pain at the back of his knees registers. He jerks round. His Mother is advancing on him, raised arm drawing back, ready to lash the sjambok against his calves again. There’s a look of cold fury that’s drawn her lips against her bared teeth, whitened her face, made the veins on her neck stand out like cables: Jason Brown runs like hell, runs for his life.
For years I’ve been loudly proclaiming the virtues of microwave cooking, and informing all who will listen, that I cook 75% of my food in the microwave. Soup and porridge are the exceptions, but other than these, watch me press that button, watch that turntable spin! But today I experienced a disaster of note. I planned to make a baked milk pudding, incorporating angel hair fine pasta, and sago. I thought I’d be clever and cut down on oven baking time, by pre-cooking the pasta and the sago, before constructing the dish. The pasta worked like a dream. I’ve been cooking pasta in the microwave for years.
Now for the sago. I put the soaked sago into a microwave cooking pot, gave it 3 minutes at 100% power. All I wanted was a pre-cook. When I opened the pot ….. Eeeeekkk – what was this? A translucent, rubbery, faintly bluish mass met my startled eyes. I prodded it gingerly with a spoon, to which it adhered instantly in a rubbery, quivering coating. Ummmm ….. The general effect was of a strange jellyfish from deepest, uncharted ocean depths.
No thanks! With difficulty I scraped the trembling, gluey mass out of the pot and into the bin. Let me tell you, the sago didn’t give up without a brave fight. It clung grimly to the spoon, and the plastic pot, despite prolonged soaking. I can authoritatively state: You cannot, and should not, cook sago in a microwave oven. You have been warned!
I enjoy colour.Bright and bold or pastel and delicate.
So you will understand my lukewarm response to the Zeitz MOCAA’s super modern colour scheme of black, grey and neturals inside the building. The coffee shop on the 6th floor offers a superb view of the harbour and a slice of the city, but the table ware and china were yet again in that stylish palette. As you can see below.
Anyhoo: having enjoyed my tea break I popped into the Ladies’ Loo directly thereafter and OH JOY! Look what met my startled gaze: COLOUR. And plenty of it. Whoever designed the interiors of the ZM cloakrooms had a nice sense of humour. Don’t you think?
My fave is the red. I was blown away by the vivid colours – now I want a tomato red throne in my own bathroom at home!
A caller to our local radio station, Cape Talk, phoned for help.
She reported that her tin opener had broken, just as she was about to open a tin of beans. What to do? She’d stocked up on tinned goods. The family were waiting impatiently for supper.
So she rushed to her nearby supermarket to buy a new tin opener but discovered the kitchen gadget section was red taped off. She argued valiantly with the floor manager that a replacement tin opener was an Essential Item, and therefore permissible. But he wasn’t having it, and chased her away.
She returned home, frustrated. Now what? Aha! Cape Talk listeners always provided the answer to everything. So she phoned in. Sure enough, within seconds of having her plight broadcast, a brisk lady was telling her to use her Swiss Army knife. Not quite adding: pull yourself together woman! But her tone said it all.
Of course! Everybody has a Swiss Army knife, or a rip-off version, in their house – don’t they?
In case of desperate times, makes sure you have a Swiss Army Knife available. It has more gadgets concealed in its chunky metallic innards than you ever dreamed of. Plus, and this is the really good one, it has a thingy which extracts stones from horses’ hooves. What more you could possibly want?
The moral of the story is: always hide a back-up tin-opener and a box of matches in the back of the kitchen drawer. Would you believe I once worked for the Boy Scouts of South Africa? Always be Prepared was the old motto. Not a bad idea.
I am overwhelmed by the pandemic, I just need a little light relief. So that’s why I’m posting this piece today, written earlier in the year. Trivia, and inconsequential in the greater scheme of things, but … we all need a break.
These damn bags defeat me every time.
Despite the fact that I have opposable thumbs, a 1400 gram brain sitting inside my skull, and belong to the species that has travelled to outer space, removing a fresh black, plastic bag from the roll of new bags, and unfolding it to put into the kitchen rubbish bin always turns into ten minutes of sweaty frustration and bad language.
For openers, tearing the bag off the continuous roll is a challenge. Yes: there are perforations which – theoretically – tear along the dotted line and liberate one black bag. Except the perforations often don’t cooperate, causing me to hunt for scissors, snip it off, and (usually) succeed in creating an unwanted hole in a brand new bag. Sigh. Let’s try again. Maybe Bag #2 will permit me to remove it from its parent roll.
Okay. So now I have one creased new black bag in my hand. But now to unfold it. Umm. Where do I start? The folding pattern would baffle an Origami Master. The folding mechanism in the plastic bag factory must have been designed by goblins or aliens. Take your pick. Finally I persuade the folds to unfold, and voila, a new bag ready for the bin.
Except there’s one final test. You’ve all been baffled by this one, I’m sure. How to persuade the bag to open? Pull, tug, shake, rub, do what you will, you cannot get the two layers of plastic to part. But there’s a secret. And I will share it: lick your thumb and forefinger, and now rub the top join, where the bag should open. It just might! Success, at last!
Another precious ten minutes sliced away by time, into the garbage bin of my life, which I begrudge. I could have been occupied with something pleasant like reading a book, or something useful, like sorting out my latest credit card bill, but no: ten minutes wasted in Round # 493 in the uneven contest of Woman v.s. Garbage Bags. And don’t ask who won. Grrrhhh!!