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 …

Posted in Country Living | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

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?


Posted in Country Living | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

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.

Posted in Country Living | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

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.

Posted in cats | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

The acceptable face of hoarding

Some people hoard cats.  I’m not one of them, I have only three of the little critters and that’s not hoarding unless you live in a cupboard.  Some people hoard tins and bottles.  These are useful for all those things you never get around to doing, but three boxes later I started bundling them up and leaving them on the pavement for the municipality.  Not hoarding.

But then there’s wool.  Wool, yarn, fibers, no matter what you call it, this is an addiction that can get seriously out of hand.  Because there’s this


and this


Never mind plain old sheep and goats, there’s yarn made out of soya, banana fiber, sugar cane and seaweed.  There’s yarn made out of your cat’s hair, the neighbour’s yak or camel.  How about peat moss and curds and whey, spider webs, citrus peel?  Yarn spun with seeds, nuts, beads and bits and pieces from the hardware store.  I’ve even seen yarn made from bison, although how the fibers are harvested is beyond my imagination.  Ditto with possum from New Zealand.

And when you reach a certain point in your yarn addiction, simple hoarding turns into STASH.


I won’t discuss the woefully inadequate size of my stash.  Needs dedicated work.  Suffice it to say that when you stop buying and start using your stash it’s no longer stash, it’s SUPPLIES and you can never have too much of that.

Now where’s that postman?  I’ve ordered sequinned Golden Retriever yarn to add to my stash.

Posted in Crafts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The feline invasion

I have feral cats in my backyard and against my better judgement I’ve been tossing out some food for them.  There was Mommy, Wynken, Blynken and Nod, three ginger kittens who set sail in a wooden boat.  Mommy hasn’t been seen for a while (hopefully not giving birth to another batch) and little Nod I suspect was dispatched by the huskies next door.  Wynken and Blynken grow and thrive and Wynken has become so relaxed that he’s started enjoying the amenities on the front stoep


Their father is the problem.  I’m not sure if he’s this one


now sadly deceased, or this one

Demon and mommy

who seems mighty relaxed around the little family.  Problem is there are two of these peculiar white cats, brothers and they have a tendency to aggression against my house kitten, resulting in

Nunu wound

an abcess the size of her head


Trip to the vet later, she’s almost her perky self and the brothers are banned from the yard.  Not that they pay the slightest attention to my pfffft worthless memo.


Posted in cats | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

How do I love thee succulents

Back in the day when my fingers were brown, I killed everything I touched.  Considering I come from good Free State farming stock, have two sisters who were farmers and parents and brothers with magnificent lush gardens, this was mighty shameful.

But then I bought this plant for it’s sculptural leaves, and cherry flavoured Lifesavers happened

first huernia

Then a sort of red tulip

Red huernia

these lasted three days, smelled like the inside of a garbage can and brought all the flies for miles around


then this penis cactus complete with single testicle I was planning to sell to the Playboy foundation

penis cactus

Obviously an obsession set in.

When I moved house I took only my favourites



and since I had a hot spot against my garage I decided to build a rock garden

succulent rock garden

and then the universe showed me what it could do without any interference on my part


Posted in succulents | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments