Amigurumi : The fine art of Japanese torture

Alas I’ve never been to Japan, but I have the impression that, as a people, they are somewhat masochistic.  Take foot binding for instance, which resulted in what was called the “lotus foot”.  What looks to our eyes a hideously deformed foot was considered sublimely beautiful and erotic, indicating that the foot owner was someone untroubled with the bother of walking on the actual ground like the rest of the human race.  Sort of like those long, useless fingernails that show their owner does not have to wash any dishes in this lifetime.


But I digress. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting cute little animals and I can report that it’s quite ridiculously addictive and not without a certain amount of masochism.  Crocheting into a tiny ring of six stitches is not for someone with huge farmer hands.

But it’s fun

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Lot of work, but it allows me to make animals that don’t come out well in fabric.



Until now I’ve only made South African animals and there’s no shortage of those



I’ve also ventured into animals we only see in the zoo.  Polar bear


and llama


Wikipedia sez amigurumi predated knitting and crochet and was practised and developed  by the samurai, yes, those ferocious warriors, and might also have been indulged in by sex workers in Japanese brothels between clients!  Clearly it does not deserve it’s reputation as a craft for dotty old grannies or giggly Japanese schoolgirls.

One of the requirements of amigurami is that it’s cute and I don’t do cute too well.  Clearly I’ll have to learn to like the cute, or to use the correct Japanese word Kawaai or Kyuuto.  Luckily I have tiny little hands, but due to a lifetime of nail chewing and gardening, they can hardly be described as kyuuto.  No worries, at least they can kawaai.

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Downside of Country Living : The Illuminati

I don’t mean to give the impression that I dislike country life, on the contrary, I love the mountain I get to gawk at every morning through my front windows.  I love my creaky groany house.  I love my garden, with all its dandelions and thistles and strange orange fungi.  I love the loudmouth little iridescent birds sitting on my washing line.  I love driving through the farms and vineyards and canola fields and rubbernecking the cows and sheep.

As always the problem is people, in this case the local Illuminati, the individuals who seem to have an inordinate amount of power and influence in these parts.

As mentioned before, I have a warehouse next door that is rather hideous, but in a certain light has a strange spooky gothic charm.


I was extra pleased when the building was sold and the owner began to fix.  I braced myself for the noise on the basis that it would be worth it in the end.  This week they began replacing the roof and crumbling sandstone bricks.  I retreated to my workroom and left them to get on with the job.

I do my gardening in the afternoon after six, due to the heat and when I emerged from my bubble, I found that the workers had climbed over my fence, rigged up this incredibly dodgy looking scaffolding, bracing it with a plank held down with bricks.


MY bricks.


In the process, they broke one of my yuccas


“trimmed” fronds off my palm tree and dumped those on the ground


Serious health and safety non-conformance coming up


Not that anyone around here cares too much about the health and safety of the populace.

Instead of simmering over the weekend and tackling the owner on Monday with a full head of furious steam, I called him right away and was very reasonable and polite.  He apologised and said he didn’t know what they were doing.  And isn’t that just the problem?  Let your workers loose on a building and don’t take the time to check on what they’re up to.

Then my sister reminded me of the fact that it is illegal to build any structure within a certain distance from a boundary.  This issue arose when my pyromaniac mother burned down the neighbour’s shed full of furniture and was required to pay for the damage.  My mother claimed the structure was not within the permitted distance, and although she had to pay for the furniture, the neighbours had to demolish the structure, so it was a lose-lose for both parties.

So anyway, I consulted the oracles and although the permitted distance varies from area to area, it seems to be 2,250m.  Out came my trusty tape measure and the distance is a mere 1.10m.  I am within my rights to call for the partial demolition of that entire building.

I’m not going to do that.  I don’t want the hassle and I’m a very reasonable person, but I see no reason to allow strange men to creep around my backyard breaking things, and if that sounds sexist, sorry, not sorry.

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Well, someone’s having a bad day and it’s not the law abiding people of my town.  An hour ago, my neighbour spotted two men climbing over the fence of a house across the street that she knows to be currently empty.  When questioned he claimed to be doing the garden.  It just so happened that police officer Adam was driving past and within minutes one of the miscreants was collared and loaded into the van.  The other got away, but the locals had seen him with another well known skelm and off went Adam to fetch him.

We all got a good look at the poor unfortunate in the back of the van.  I can’t swear to it, but he looked very much like one of the two who tried the same agile maneuver over my fence.

Good job wide-awake neighbour and thanks to police officer Adam for making our streets just that little bit safer.

AND AN UPDATE :  It turns out that these two individuals discovered the house was empty some time ago and were using it as their hidey hole, making forays into the rest of the village for plunder.

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Downside of country life – Part 3

There’s a very common dream in which, when faced with danger and we try and scream and only a squeak emerges.  Or we try and run, but our limbs are frozen.  I have this to report, when the time comes, believe me, you will scream loudly and you will run, and you will be filled with the kind of courage and recklessness you never knew you had.

A week ago I had a dream that someone had broken into my backyard and I shouted for my neighbours and nobody came.  It was one of those morning dreams, very vivid, a dream with a message.  I’m not going to bore you with my dreams.  The most boring things in life are other people’s dreams, drug experiences, horrible marriages and medical problems.  My take on that dream was that I needed to pay some attention to my security as I could not depend on anyone to help me when the time came.

So, long story short, one night this week I was preparing for bed, washed the face, filled up the cats bowls, checked the garden for snails, set my computer to download some interesting BBC programmes on anthropology.  The way one does.  I looked through my bedroom window to see what the next day’s weather would bring, and saw two guys walking down the road, strolling down the road, but then they turned, came up the driveway towards my garage and started climbing over the palisade fence into my yard.

A week ago, my garage was broken into, nothing stolen or broken, so imagine my astonishment to see two guys climbing into my yard right under a street light at the exact moment I chanced to look through the window.

I screamed.  Yes I did.  LOUDLY, and they ran off.  Lucky me, I got a pair of girls.

Until now, my security consisted of this ferocious ginger attack kitty


and this


Don’t laugh, that’s some serious habanero chilli in that bottle and the knife is a Morakniv. Both pretty effective at close range, but you don’t want “them” getting THAT close.

So off to the co-op for some of this


and a few of these solar garden lamps to light the dark corner between my garage and the house


5 litres of white paint so I can paint my walls and double the amount of light.

I hate to do this.  I never expected I would have to do this, considering I left the dark, dangerous city for this lovely country town, but needs must.  There are desperate people out there, folks.  Girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.

On the subject of the police, I called them.  The phone rang and rang and rang.  I put down, called again, they answered quickly and were at my house within 5 minutes.  They were so great it shames me to have to call them for something so trivial.  They drove up and down my street for a couple of hours afterwards, but they have a huge area of farms to cover with the paltry two cars they have at their disposal and can’t be everywhere at once.  We owe it to them to give them as much help as we can.

So therefore, I have an appointment with a guy who will help me with a firearm license.   I’ll be off to the shooting range and blam blam blam.  Don’t want to do it, but girl’s gotta do …

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The downside of country life Part 2

I’ve been monumentally ill this week.  Not looking for pity, but something in my environment triggered an asthma attack of note and I was forced to call the local ambulance for relief and oxygen.  They were excellent, efficient and I am very grateful to them, however, their presence outside my house was noted by the criminal lowlifes who chose that night to break into my garage.

But I digress.  The issue is the allergen that triggered the asthma attack of note.  I am not some wussy city asthmatic that gets a conniption when I’m exposed to the countryside.  I grew up in the country, where veld fires were a regular Sunday event.  There was no trash pickup, so the “hole” containing our household waste was set alight by my pyromaniac mother on a regular basis.  I’m South African.  We roast meat over open coals.  I’ve been a heavy smoker of various comestibles for 30 years.  Ergo, I have invincible iron lungs, so an asthma attack such as the one I experienced was rather an unpleasant surprise.

Trying to identify the trigger was rather difficult.  Canola?  Crop spraying?  Black wattle? Spring pollen? Roundup?  Feces?

The day before I had the attack, I cut the grass outside my garage very short, using sheep shears, delicately lifting the “dog and cat feces” and placing them in bags for removal.  Imagine my surprise on Saturday morning to see two young women hunkered over my newly cut grass with their pants around their ankles, eyes watering as they pinched out some rather pathetic and unhealthy looking specimens.   In broad daylight.   Saturday morning, busiest day of the week with moms and prams and dads and bicycles passing by.

When I went outside to ask them if they might want to use an inside toilet like human beings, they let loose with some of the pungent language that is common in these parts.  I took out my camera and pretended to take their photograph, whereupon these choice young ladies, ran off giggling, covering their faces.

Clearly I need to replace the grass outside my garage with something a little less soft and inviting.  The only question is – nettles or cacti?


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Murder in a small town


This week,  my sleepy little town was shocked to the core by a horrifically gruesome murder.

Details are thin on the ground and contradictory.  Netwerk 24 is covering the story, (login is required, free for 30 days), but stories appear and disappear hours later.  The best source of information was the town’s Facebook page, but when the comments quickly degenerated into inexplicable nastiness, the owner rightly shut down the debate.

What we do know is that the police have arrested three people, one of them a woman.

It’s a very normal human impulse to look for an explanation when something horrible happens.  We need to know that we are safe in our homes, can hike up the mountain without fear or drive to a nearby town on a Saturday night without mishap.  Most of all we want to know if this awful thing could happen to any of us or our loved ones.  But it seems that questioning what happened, trying to differentiate between the facts and rumours is construed as “blaming the victim”.

As any South African knows, when you are victim of a crime, questions are asked.  Left your handbag on the seat of your car and had your window broken?  Asking for it.  Had your sunglasses ripped off your face through an open car window?  Asking for it.  Walked around the shopping centre with your two carat diamond ring on your hand and got mugged in the carpark?  Asking for it.  It’s not that we’re unsympathetic, it’s that we’re frightened.  We want to know it’s not something what will happen to us because …. because I don’t leave the house without a bodyguard and a gun.  Or my pitbull by my side.  It’s a way of keeping control when the world around us seems to be heading off into the abyss.

For now we need to wait until the police have completed their investigation, but a vacuum gets filled with rumour and innuendo.  Until now, crime in this town has been the equivalent of ringing the doorbell and running away.  People are rightly scared and shocked and hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to find out what happened.

And no, asking questions is not blaming the victim.  We need to know.


It’s taken a few years but finally the truth comes out in court and it goes like this.  The victim was in the habit of using the sexual services of the woman accused of the murder.  She was resentful of the paltry amount of money he was paying for said sexual services and hatched a plan with her husband and a friend.  They lured the victim from his house to the local graveyard and stabbed him multiple times.  All three caught and sentenced to life.

Moral of the story :  this was no random crime that can “happen to anyone”, but the murder of a guy with a weakness for drugs and dodgy women.  He didn’t deserve to die for his vices, but he was not quite the angel his family wanted us to believe.  This incident was by not stretch of the imagination a “farm murder” and had nothing to do with race.  The motive was money and revenge and the Riviersonderend police are to be commended for catching the perpetrators and seeing them through a lengthy court system.

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When is a feral not a feral

Last Christmas, the universe gifted me kittens.  Since their mum was ginger I naturally assumed she was an undersized boy and started feeding her to bulk her up against the neighbourhood bullies.  Unbeknownst to me, there are a large number of female gingers in this town and she proudly presented me with three little kittens which I called Winken, Blinken and Nod.  Long story short, mum and little Nod disappeared and I ended up with Winken (renamed Wriggly) and Blinken (now called Eric the Red).

It took a while and some surreptitious touching on my part, but slowly they became used to me and crept closer to the house


Then this happened


which was a short hop through the window to this.


So the question is, if they roll over onto their backs, allow me stroke their tummies and play with their toes, are they still feral?

The incumbent redhead isn’t happy, but will have to learn to live with it


Unfortunately the universe took away this one


who inexplicably decided to take a stroll through the home of six large huskies.  Unlike other dogs that go bezerk when they see a cat, huskies are silent as ghosts until the prey is close enough and then a howling goes up that would raise the dead from the grave.  I have no explanation for why she went into their enclosure, but presumably she had run through most of her lives before she arrived on my doorstep.  She is sorely missed.

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