Still me

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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

31 March 2010: More family than friends

Grandma's and great-aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins by the dozen, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters abounded at the joyous, carefree wedding of Rozanne and Minnaar - chums as toddlers, dating teenagers, long distance student buddies, reunited lovers and now bride and groom. Under the veil, Zan's smile was broad. So was Dad Pieter's.

Mom Rhoda designed and sewed the bride's gown, the bridesmaids' dresses and her own little froufrou number in midnight blue.

Years before Rhoda and Pieter had emerged as man and wife on the very same stone steps as Zan and Minnaar did on Saturday.

Madeleine the Beautiful


Bridal attendants in cherry red.

Rozanne, professional chef par excellence, baked and decorated the chocolate mousse cake, lavishly decorated with roses and her homemade choc truffles.

Gorgeous gals were mother and daughter, Rhoda and Madeleine

Speeches were short and snappy.

How nice it was to take my pale green beaded mother-of-the-bride outfit out of the closet where it has been safely stowed since Cath's big day and enjoy it once again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday, 17 March: No grumpy old men around here!

No grumpy old men around Thatchwick! Just two courteous aging companions who have grown more than a little placid.

Tristram turns a grand ninety-one doggie years in June; Galahad is a relatively youthful sixty-three. But both prefer to snooze most of the day unless they catch a whiff of steak or the rattle of the breadbin. Galahad still appreciates his late afternoon swim and some leisurely water aerobics with his rather perished orange rubber ring. Trist will attempt to catch just one ball before he gathers all his old doggie toys in his mouth, safely out of my reach, and heads for his favourite spot on the veranda. Their best time is 4.30 am when we rise for our early morning walk. In the fresh early morning air, with the world to ourselves, eyes are bright, tails wag, and the leashes strain. Gal loves his backroll and tummy rub in the dewy grass in the park area. Trist limps along gamely warming up his arthritic back legs.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

10 March, 2010: Eco friendliness - past and present

Washing the linen this week was a great opportunity to try out my new Ecoballs which I bought to replace regular detergents and save the world! I was very satisfied with my wash - snowy white and soft. If things continue this way, my savings on detergents should be considerable. Those Ecoballs cost R200 for approx. 300 washes; a packet of detergent is about R 65 for 60 washes.

This adds to my general enthusiasm for recycling: organic kitchen waste to the compost heap; bottles, plastics, tin and paper to the relevant collection points. Electricity used with care especially with 25 % Eskom hikes in tariffs on the cards.

But how new is this all to do about the environment? My mom always kept a thriving compost heap for kitchen waste: teabags and coffee grounds, egg shells, veggie and fruit peels, even shredded newspapers. Milk bottles were rinsed and recycled and the silver milk bottle seals collected. Paper and string were folded to be re-used time and again. Christmas cards were collected for charity recycling. Plastic bags were rinsed and used again. The attractive curtains, cushions and bedthrows in Mom's home were often made from remnants bought at sales. Clothes were darned and mended. Sheets cut in half and sewn outer sides facing inwards. Fraying towels were hemmed and darned until they were demoted to the cleaning cupboard. Lights in empty rooms were switched off and not left to burn heedlessly. Her garden was planted with cuttings and seeds obtained from friends' gardens. She grew her own vegetables and scorned at buying flowers from a shop for her vases. Family celebrations took place at home with fare from her kitchen.

When did this all go so very off track? I confess, as a baby boomer, with the scramble after affluence and extravagance of the post-war, throw-away generation who rebelled against all that scrimping and saving. Now I don't want to advocate a return to parsimonous anxiety about having enough. Nor a militant activism. Just find out how easy it is, how much fun to be eco friendly.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday 8 March 2010: Surprise Baby Shower

Surprise! Cath and Ryan (and the Bump) arrive at Thatchwick Cottage on Saturday afternoon. They found the sitting room filled with thirty-six eager guests gathered to celebrate the soon arrival of their first baby. My first grandson.

Ruth, Joelle and Jaelene had arrived the day before with a bootful of goodies: cupcakes still to be iced, gifts and party decorations. By noon Saturday we had just made it! And what better opportunity to wear the girls' special flowergirl dresses once again.

The banner was up and the table set. Time for the guests to arrive on foot. Cars had been parked in Marais Street to make allay any suspicions Catherine may have had. The plan to get her to the party unsuspecting? That was Ryan's task.

Ruth made the welcoming speech. "Catherine may be quiet and reserved but she has the most amazing circle of friends! Thank you all for being here today. Family, collegues at work and friends from church, university and school days..."

Each package a surprise.

See that special glow?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday, 4 March: A gift from a poor man

A late afternoon ring at my gate. An unexpected gift. Oliver, the security guard, whose regular beat includes William Drive, stood waiting. He had just returned from a visit to his home village in northern Zimbabwe. Before he left on the three-day bus journey home, I had given him a parcel for his mother. “Mam, my mother was very happy with the parcel you sent her.” He handed me a round, travel stained package. A supermarket bag enclosed a well-used red plastic container. “It’s honey,” he explained, “in the shell. Very, very sweet”. And so it was – honey in a honeycomb. Dark amber. Pungent. Sweet with the distinct flavour of the nectar gathered by a swarm of bees far off in devastated rural Zimbabwe.

“Thank you so much. Wonderful. I love honey.” I answered enthusiastically. Then I hesitated, a little uncertain about the protocol. But it’s my conviction, in a cross-cultural situation, to ask politely for clarity rather than blunder on regardless. “Would you prefer me to pay you for this?”. “No, Mam, it is a gift – for you. Not just because of what you sent my mother. Because of the way you talk to us when you walk with your dogs – the way you interact with us.”

While the comb was draining, I remembered the honeycombs my mother would purchase from roaming pedlars when I was a child living in Camps Bay. Huge fat honeycombs balanced over a chipped white enamel bowl. The sticky sweetness was redolent of the fynbos growing on the slopes of Table Mountain where those bees had gathered their store. A little bit of comb broken off for my brother and me to squash into waxy gold on our toast.

I have decided to bake a honey cake with this honey, this tub of honeycomb passed through the wrought ironwork of my front gate – a precious gift from a poor man.