Still me

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday 30 August 2011: Adopting Kaela

Kaela's adoption took place on Saturday in a flurry of excitement for Galahad, tears for her former owner and with some trepidation on my behalf. All has gone remarkably well. A friend and dog trainer, Erna was at hand to give advice and take control. But in the end it was up to the two dogs to get acquainted.

Kaela is gaining confidence daily and adapting to the rhythms of a new household. Here she is an inside/outside dog; previously she was an outside dog.

And Gal, an nearly 11 year old who likes to snooze the day away has encountered a lively lady friend. Kaela's previous companion dog was a very exuberant 5 year old, who, I am glad to report, has also found a new home.

So we are all in the interesting process of forming a new three-dog life. Gal has discovered new energies; I am firmly using the Sit, Down and Stay commands to endorse good manners; Kaela is happily proving a ready and intelligent pupil.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday, 19 August 2011: Living life backwards

In February I was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Research at my institution. A prestigious prize that I was very surprised to win. Dear friend Leone, Events Co-ordinator of any friendship circle, arranged a celebratory luncheon with book club friends, work friends and just plain old good friends. The Blue Crane Restaurant overlooking the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary was the venue for vegetable quiche, salad and chilled sauvignon blanc.

Jansje regaled us with her story of childbirth in a Spanish village during the 60s. She, lying on an old iron bedstead and accompanied by the village midwife, struggled in the upper room; downstairs the rest of the village gathered to see what an Englishwoman (she’s full-blown Dutch) could do. Each time her moans became audible, the padre fell to his knees and besought Our Lady for aid. Succour duly given, a healthy baby girl entered the world.

What fun a ladies lunch party can be! You guys have just no idea!

Back home the family gave me this bunch of sweet pink roses which would have been the envy of any bride. Mmm, February 2011 had its moments.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

17 August 2011: First stop - Wurzburg

Wurzburg on the Main - our first stop on the Romantic Route through southern Germany. We arrived at Frankfurt airport, at 6am on Thursday, 16 August and found the railway station and a fast train to Wurzburg.

What a magical introduction to Germany this peaceful town was to the three of us – with the Mareinberg fortress set high above the vineyards and the River Main winding lazily below.

This is an old unversity town, episcopal see and the former home of the medieval woodcarver par excellence, Tilman Riemenschneider, whose altars topped our To See list during this trip.

A glimpse of St Kilian's Cathedral.

Giant strawberries bought on the marketplace, a warm ham roll and a generous mug of German coffee offered a wholesome antidote to jet lag and a bad 11-hour night flight in cramped economy class.

I felt a new person and map in hand, ready for the day.

Next travel instalment later. If I am to sustain blogging, I realise must aim at frequent modest entries. To come - Rothenburg, Neuschwanstein, Linderhof Palace , Oberammergau & Munich. Then Prague, the beautiful and other Bohemian gems.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday, 11 August 2011: Could this work?

Could this work?
This morning I went to meet Kaela, a 6 year old spayed Labrador bitch, who is looking for a new home. Will Sir Galahad find the lady as sweet as I did? She loves to swim as you can see but has not been walked on a lead.

Will I manage?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

7 August, 2011: Turning sixty

I celebrated my sixtieth birthday with a party two days ahead of the official date, 11 July.
Saturday, 9 July.

Ruth, the toast maker, raises her glass.

The event was passed in a happy blur of activity. I had arrived back from Europe just two weeks’ earlier and shopping and preparation for my brother and his wife’s visit and the arrival of Ruth and family was squeezed between the pile-up of work that occurs when one is Out of Office for any length of time.

The winter lunchtime menu was simple: homemade minestrone, garlic ciabattas from Woolworth’s Deli, my and Catherine’s lasagne made according to each’s favourite recipe and open salads.

The dessert, a hybrid between a chocolate truffle and a cupcake, were catered by ‘Nice things’ and were - very nice!

The crowd represented all aspects of my life: family, work, church, book club, embroidery and quilting and those in the category of simply friends. The day was aptly recorded by Rhoda’s quick snaps.

Bookclub gals!

Cath and Jethro

The Ya-Yah sisterhood from Unisa.

Rhoda of the canny camera.

Holding a party for nearly 50 guests ranging from 16 months to 70-odd years is a challenge in the dead of a particularly nasty winter. But the Highveld sun shone, the sky was blue and most guests could gather for at least the first hour on the winter-yellowed front lawn. The veranda was not too chilly to serve the drinks.

My special appreciation was to Graham (on the left) and Di for making the long journey to Pretoria. It is not every day that a Capetonian will brave the ‘lang pad’ (long road) to the interior. Capetonians simply don’t understand why anyone would want to live here anyhow! Gray and Di have been wonderful in keeping up contact with me since our parents, and then Richard, passed away – with phone calls and invitations for holidays and general concern.

So now I am officially a SC – senior citizen. The visits to the Botanical Gardens are free on a Tuesday and I have a SC card for the mall with all its discounts. For the rest, I feel quite ageless at present. And looking forward to the next moment as always.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday, 2 August 2011: Goodbye to an old friend

My faithful companion of 14 years, Tristram, handsome black Labrador, was put to sleep last Monday. His aging had become increasingly apparent since the beginning of this year. His back legs sagged, his eyes and his hearing was dulled and nodules appeared on the leg from which a melanoma was removed last August. But still he nudged me for impatient attention, had the occasional back roll while he grinned happily and constantly begged for his favourite treat, a slice of fresh brown bread. The pace of our early morning walks had grown slower and slower and he sometimes stumbled and fell, leaving me apprehensive as to how I was to get him and Galahad home in the pre-dawn darkness.

When I fetched both dogs from the kennels the morning I returned from Prague, Trist was noticeably weaker, although his large frame remained deceptively solid. Some evenings my heart leapt when I hugged his sleeping form on the mat in front of my bed; other days, his perky spirit made me feel he would live forever. Then the nodules began to produce large weeping sores which would not heal in spite of medication. I noticed that he seldom wagged his tail. The morning we drove to the vet I did not think about it being his last trip. In the reception area he still glanced suspiciously at a large cat in a crate with a notice: ‘Looking for a home’. But his poor condition was obvious.

“I think it’s time. Or would you prefer to take him home for a few days and think about it?”

And so the decision was made. He died with his head on my lap: “Ouboet (old brother), you’re a good boy. You’re my old chap! Tristy-boy!”

Now it’s just Galahad and me.