Riding time

The days seem to skip by now, like the flat grey stones we threw into the river, long ago, watching them bounce along, seeing who could get theirs to reach the opposite bank first.

Back then, when a school term seemed to last a thousand years to our young minds, and the months between Christmas and our birthdays were subject to a detailed countdown, the time, all of it, belonged to us. We controlled it. We rode time, joyfully, as we approached long, sun-filled weeks of summer holidays.

And then we looked back. Twenty years, then thirty since we last wore a school uniform, even though we can vividly recall the sound of the school bell ringing, as if we had heard it only yesterday. The children who replaced us have left too, and their own children rush, like summer thunderstorms through every moment. .

Some say that time is an illusion, a man made concept. It probably is. We need to be able to put it all into words, to help us to understand that with every revolution of the earth around the sun, we become a different creature. A bald, helpless baby becomes a whirlwind of energy in what seems like no time all. And the whirlwind will change into another creature, with the years, and then another.

When we have lived through many sunrises, and watched the sun set on each year, we learn that almost all we experience is finite. There is a last time, we might not know when it happens, for everything. The last time we played outside with our friends, until we realised that the streetlights were shining and that our parents would soon be looking for us. The last time we held our lovers in our arms, never knowing what tomorrow would bring.

We cannot pause time, rewind it, or slow it down. We can only live in each moment;  whatever we do in this minute, this hour we are living through now,  will change our tomorrows.







Acrophobia (Basil and the great rooftop adventure)

Early yesterday morning, I happened to hear a great deal of loud meowing followed by sorrowful, high pitched wails, which all translated roughly to: “Get me the hell off this bastardy high thing. Help!” Yes, I do understand Cat. It’s best not to ask.

Searching for the source of all this caterwauling proved to be difficult, as the mournful sounds seemed to echo forth from all four corners of the neighbourhood. But finally, he was spotted.

Perched on the slippery tiled roof, singing arias of grief and woe, sat our little Basil: chicken thief and accomplished lizard murderer. I am assuming that he either teleported himself up there, somehow, or found himself caught by an eagle and dropped in favour of a more substantial breakfast, because he did not seem to have a back up plan that involved getting back down to earth.

I do not like high places. If I were meant to be clambering around high above the ground with my two left feet, I would have been given wings or a working propeller at least, I am sure. Or a little more cushioning than I already have. As it is, all that I have are those feet I mentioned, hands full of thumbs, and no sense of direction. Combine that with shaky balance, as the only core I possess is apple, and we have acrophobia. A (sensible) fear of heights.

But because Basil looked and sounded terribly forlorn and his wails were taking on a defeated tone, I had no other choice. The ladder of doom was collected and set up on the wet grass. As body weight was applied, it promptly sank a few feet into the green, grassy mud. Rung by slippery, wretched rung, I finally reached the top, where the ladder leaned not too steadily against the roof, and Basil and I were at last eyeball to eyeball. I was wondering how I would, firstly, persuade him to come to me, and secondly, descend the ladder with one hand,a scratchy cat and two unsteady feet. Basil was, judging by his expression, wondering why, out of all the skilled, athletic humans in the world that could possibly  have rescued him from this mess, they sent the shaking cat food lady up?

Wasting no time, as the world up there on that cloudy roof was beginning to spin a little, I grabbed young Basil by the scruff of his neck. I will not say too much about the return journey, except that I should have been accompanied by a skilled Sherpa guide. Fortunately, and not due to any skill at all, we landed safely.

This morning, I heard a familiar sound. Basil: howling and swearing again (he is from Montclair) from the roof top. I gathered my strength, courage and a little wisdom and shook the cat food container. In a magical few seconds, Basil was at my feet.

Ladders. Who needs them?





Green thumbs and purple toes

If you ever happen to see a  trace of green on my thumbs, know that the reason is, that I have either been at the adult colouring books again, or that my thumbs are gravely ill and need an ambulance.

Helpless seedlings in their trays lean to the left (or the right, whichever is furthest) as I march through the rows at the nursery, at the beginning of each Spring, armed with good intentions and visions of harvesting my own vegetables by Summer. You can almost hear the tiny plants praying, not to be the chosen ones, please.

Once they arrive at my home, the seedlings that once had potential,  spend a few weeks perishing sadly in their trays, until they are remembered and planted. Spinach, parsley, peppers and spring onions. It says so on the labels. Once in the ground, who knows which is which? They are all green and spindly looking, much like the surrounding weeds.

Most surprisingly, the first plants to flourish in the garden are tomatoes. I have never planted them, they simply appear each year as if by magic. Chili’s are next to pop up overnight, uninvited. The tiny, bright red type that burn fiercely through your palate and leave a large, steaming hole as they exit through the top of your skull, if you are tempted to try one, that is.

Another problem faced by the vegetable garden that thought it could, is that this year a banana tree has decided to lean in that direction, bearing an enormous bunch of green bananas which is selfishly stealing all the sunlight. As bunches of bananas do.

In order to protect the garden from marauding dogs and other herds of creatures, I fenced it off with a quite low fence. Which keeps nothing out, but guarantees  that every time I decide to venture in, I forget it is there and trip over it, resulting in it falling over and squashing my toes. Every time. I will be applying post it reminders. Soon.

Every so often a vegetable arrives in my kitchen that actually came out of the garden. Sometimes they’re not tomatoes.

Yet every year I try, as I am not one to give up easily. Unlike the poor plants who lost all hope when they crossed my doorway. 

Christmas shopping

So it begins.

It seems that only yesterday we discarded our droopy Christmas trees, and carefully packed away the tinsel and ornaments. We packed the lights away carefully too, but they did not care. They will sneakily tie themselves into impossible knots while waiting to be set free. Or possibly do some sort of river dance in their box, in order to entertain themselves during the not so long wait from one Christmas to the next.

The first signs that we are once again approaching the season of all things shiny and expensive, appear in the shopping centres, always causing us to pause with surprise and wonder why we are seeing signs of Christmas so early. Suddenly the Christmas crackers appear in the aisles, and the cardboard advent calenders with their hidden nuggets of cooking chocolate are brought out of the archives, and placed prominently at the tills. Like an infestation of creeping ivy, tinsel starts growing noisily in every corner.

Decorated Christmas trees begin twinkling in various locations throughout the shops, reminding us that it is almost time for the Back to School items to appear, followed shortly by teddy bears holding hearts, which will shortly thereafter be followed by shelves full of Easter eggs, at least two months before the actual event. There is no time to catch our breaths, or to reflect upon the meaning of it all. No time to breathe, when there is gift buying to be done.

For those closest to us, our gifts to them are lovingly planned, searched for relentlessly until just the right item is found and purchased with a glad heart. And then there are those for whom we buy gifts out of a sense of duty. The pre-packaged gift packs displayed at the front of the shops will do. Or a box of chocolates; after all, everyone loves chocolates, we reason, as we pop a couple of boxes into our baskets. Forgetting that Uncle Bill is diabetic and our cousin Anne is always on a strict no sugar diet.

Mince pies and dry, over priced fruit cakes begin appearing  on the shelves as October ends.  Do people really start buying these manufactured baked goods so early? Shop bought mince pies do not even taste particularly good on Christmas day itself. One suspects it is only the general mood of goodwill, full stomachs, and over consumption of the contents of many green bottles that make them even slightly palatable. Eaten sober in early November, they are horrible.

The last minute rush: the zombie apocalypse is about to start and thousands of people are running frantically into shops everywhere, buying supplies before everything is sold out and they will not be able to eat, drink, or purchase gift wrap again for many years. No, it’s only the last minute Christmas rush. The words “dashing through the snow” (we live in Durban), blare out of hidden shop speakers merrily, competing with the sounds of the cash registers inhaling hard earned  money.

We had better hurry up and get the last box of crackers left on the shelf, the ones in the silver deluxe box (some of them contain tiny nail clippers!), because in a day or two, the crackers and shiny baubles will be replaced by rulers and glue.

Don’t be late, supplies are limited.












Every so often, during this journey that we are on, we need to step off the road for a while.

We plod along determinedly, one step at a time until all the steps add up, and when we look over our shoulders, we notice that we have come a long way.  We have left so much behind us, and we carry even more with us.

Sometimes it becomes all about the destination, wherever that is, and we forget, while watching the road ahead, to watch the sunsets, to see the wind blown trees and to stop and smell the flowers that brighten the edges of our road. We think that we are  given an unlimited number of sunsets. We can always stop another time, because we are busy now. But one day there will be no time left.

We should pause in  our journey, leave our backpacks on the edge of the road just for a moment each day, and step onto the grass. Take our shoes off and absorb nature through the bare soles of our feet. We should laugh, and feel the sun warming our backs while we rest. We should allow ourselves to love and be loved unconditionally.

When it is time for us to move on, we have to remember those feelings and carry them with us, for the dark times when the road seems impassable and we need strength and courage. 

Be kind to those you meet along the way, as you do not know how difficult their own journeys are. Smiles can hide much sorrow.  

Be kind to yourself too, you have a long way to go. 




The Fat Fairy

She is the slightly older, more curvaceous lady friend of the Tooth Fairy. The wonderful woman who rescued him after his reed thin Tinkerbell clone left him for a rather taller prince who happened to smell a bit less of gums.

Besides keeping her toothsome lover smiling, our Fat Fairy’s main occupation is to slip into the bedrooms of the slightly more voluptuous among us, and steal our fat while we sleep. We can only assume that they use it in her country for skin care products, as the folk over there seem to be fairly wrinkle-free, considering that they have lifetimes that span countless decades. They all still have their own teeth too, I cannot imagine why! Fairly inexpensive enhancements, and we only get a few coins for our teeth and not much at all for our fat rolls. Exploitation at its best. Although in the case of fat harvesting, it could be seen as a win-win situation for most.

There is a problem. It has resulted in many sternly issued disciplinary warnings from our Fat Fairy’s employers, but it is really not her fault. She has a dysfunctional inner GPS. She often ends up heading East when she was sent West, or at the house on the left instead of the right. Resulting in some poor thin person who thinks they are fat, ending up even slimmer. And rather more smug.

Her wand often malfunctions too. She jabs it at that stubborn roll and utters her incantation, but instead of shrinking, the roll grows and becomes two!  She will then hastily leave the scene, as silently as a Fat Fairy in stiletto’s can possibly leave. She knows very well who will be put on probation in the morning. She blames the wand; her employers seem to think she has sub-standard enunciation. This is also not her fault. It’s the wine she drinks along the way, as she needs to fortify herself for the late night’s gruelling work. After all, her darling Tooth Fairy appreciates clean, matching socks in the morning, and she usually gets one out of the two right.

Her employers keep her on the payroll, despite her poor harvest rate, as they have had no success  in replacing her. The others all have their own jobs to get done. They asked the Hair Fairy to assist while on his hair harvesting route, but he refused, insisting that the extra work would over burden his already very busy schedule. Errors could be costly, leaving hapless folk with fat heads or hairy love handles. This is bad for maintaining amicable foreign relations.

Sometimes, our Fat Fairy gets it right. She will happen to find the house (possibly with assistance from electronic devices, or perhaps  good fortune) of a sleeping person who by happy co-incidence is on a healthy journey. Erring on the side of caution, as she does not want things to go, well, pear-shaped, the Fairy only extracts a small amount. And if the batteries of her electronic direction-thingy gadget do not fail, she will be back soon.




One and a half women

After months of eating fairly well and putting in the daily walks, cycles and exercises, it is easy to become despondent when the only results you are noticing is that the extra half a body that seems to have attached itself to yours like a soft, co-joined twin is beginning to develop a personality of her own. She is even demanding her own personal space lately.

Besides that, suddenly you are sporting a spare chin, possibly as a safe guard against something terrible happening to the one you received at birth. A badly aimed flying soap moment, perhaps? It makes for some interesting photographic moments, if you cannot hide away from the person pointing a camera at you. Now I know why we had to learn Geometry at school: we needed to know about all those angles, because somebody wiser than us knew that one day we would have to find the correct one to hide Duplo Chin!

The decision was finally made that the doctor should be visited, after noticing strange swollen glands somewhere between the neck and shoulder bones. Having not visited a doctor since the great ankle incident of two years prior, it was a very nervous woman, along with her half-woman and bag of spare chins that waddled off bravely into the room of  interminable waiting.

Eventually, after about four years of waiting nervously, and almost dozing off over a fascinating farming magazine, the doctor strolled in. He then proceeded to ask many invasive questions, and to get the usual prodding and poking done. He peered over the top of his glasses and uttered the miserable words:  “the good news is, those are not swollen glands. The bad news is: you have fat collar bones.”

Many blood tests later,  in order to determine the cause of the non-existent metabolism,  some interesting results were yielded, and many drugs were dealt out to this woman, her flabby half-woman, the not so photogenic extra chin and Steve and Derek, the fat collar bones.  Hopefully all these drugs are the magic youth wand, because that is all it really is: we are heading into that dreaded “M” phase that sneakily attacks all woman from behind when we reach that level of  “slightly more expensive plonk”.

All one can do now, is wait patiently for the potions to do their magic. If, along with everything else that has been promised, they bring my previously perfect eyesight back and help me to remember where I left my glasses, I will be impressed.