Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Vegetarians and Vegans

On Saturday I was at a party. It was the end of year party of our poetry group and one of the most enjoyable I have been to. The food was great, the company was excellent and the poems were of a very high standard too. While surveying the most wonderfully varied choice of snacks, the subject of Vegetarianism came up and with it the idea of the exploitation of animals. Somebody saying how poor cows were forced to produce more milk than was natural and chicken kept to lay eggs etc. Now, I am against animals suffering, but I am not sure that the exploitation of animals is the evil that some  animal lovers believe. Think of all the animals we share our world with. There are those we  use for our own purposes, and those we compete with for living space and food. The first multipy and thrive, the others are pushed towards extinction, unless preserved in game parks and reserves and there, of course exploited too, to make money as tourist attractions.

Animals do have feelings, but are we right when we equate their emotions with ours. I am reminded of friends from our dog club who asked me to sign a petition against using  animals in circuses.  "These creatures, " they said. " are put in cages, taken all round the country and made to perform tricks." I said that I thought it a bit hypocritical of us to condemn the practice, because it was exactly what we were doing with our dogs. We train them to run Agility courses, take them to events in different places and keep them in cages at shows when not competing. I am not just trying to justify it when I insist that the dogs simply love it. You just have to see my terrier's excited reaction when he is taken to a show.  Just because animals are made to work, doesn't mean that they are unhappy or badly treated. We may prize freedom, but do animals feel the same way? An animal in a well-run Zoo, kept safe and fed regularly is probably happier than the same creature in the wild, often hungry and in constant danger of predators or if a predator itself, in competition with other dangerous animals. We may get sentimental about the natural life in the great wide open spaces, but given the choice, we nearly all opt for a safe suburbia ourselves.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

All Souls Day

All Saint's, All Soul's and Halloween  all come at the same tine of year and I get them muddled. I am also confused about "the Day of the Dead. "  Is this the same as All Soul's Day?  At the churches where I worshiped previously neither All Saint's nor All Soul's was  celebrated. I always knew that the name Halloween meant Saint's Eve, so presumably it is the day before All Saint's day, but because of all the skulls and skeletons you see at Halloween, I thought it had something to do with the dead and so I thought the day on which one remembered the dead was the day before the day you remembered the saints.  I believed that All Soul's day came before All Saint's Day. I was very surprised to read the instructions in our latest pew leaflet. We were told, last week, to go to church on Wednesday evening as it was All Saint's Day and  again on Thursday evening for All Soul's day. So I must remember Nov 1 all Saints, Nov 2 All Souls. First remember the goodies and then all the other dead people.

Now that I am a member of  All Saint's parish , Muizenberg I am very aware of the date of our patronal festival. So I know that the actual day was Wednesday. But because not everyone can attend church in the week, there was just a short service on Wednesday and we waited until today for the proper celebration. We had a simply glorious service for this special day. The church was shining clean and full of flowers, the Youth band produced most joyful music and we had a scrumptious tea afterwards.

I had intended to go to the evening service on Wednesday. I even told Luke, who was to spend the night here, that I would leave his supper for him in the oven, if I was not there when he came.  I had been very busy all day making marmalade for the Evergreen Craft market which was to take place on Friday and just did not make it to church. I got everything ready. I put the meat and veg in the oven, sat down for a few minutes and fell fast asleep, only waking when Luke arrived. The pork rashers were a little overcooked, but thankfully not burnt. he was ravenous and didn't mind.

So having missed out on All Saint's, I attended the All Soul's service the next day. . It was quite a moving service. After the prayers when we remembered those that had died, we went up to the altar and lit candles for them. There were not very many of us in the congregation. The Parish council  had catered for a larger group and there were enough candles for each of us to light more than one. I thought of all those dear to me who had died. So many of my family, so many of my friends.
I made a mental list as I went up and lit candles. First, my Grandmother, who died when I was still at school. My aunt Bobby who lived with us died when I was at university, my father I lost when I was in my twenties, married and living in Zambia, my father-in-law died the same year. My mother-in-law died many years later when we were living in George, my other aunt Dorothy died at much the same time, but I don't remember exactly when. My husband died seventeen years ago. My eldest Daughter died eight years ago. After my husband's

  death I moved to Cape Town to be near my grandson and my youngest daughter(who have both since moved away, of course) . When I moved  I  had family living here as well as a number of old friends. almost none of them are left. I have out-lived them all. I was one of the youngest of my generation and had numerous older cousins. Of these I was very close to Jerry and Brian .Both died a few years ago. Closest of my friends were Poelie, Liz, Catherine and Helen  Of them only Liz is still alive and she is senile and bedridden. Why am I still around? I ask myself.

Yesterday I went to a wedding. It was a delightful occasion. I found myself becoming tearful. Why after all these deaths, do I cry at a wedding.Perhaps because it was such a welcome change from all the funerals and  wakes or  ("celebrations of a life") that I have been to lately.


Today I remember:
my Granny, who showed me how to sew,
and knit and darn my father’s woollen socks,
my Dad who didn’t say too much, but taught me
some Maths and some 
basic carpentry.
my Aunt, who gave me lessons in the pruning
of bougainvillea creepers, fruit trees and rose bushes,
my Mother who  introduced me to books,
my daughter Dot, who taught me patience among other things
my friends, Catherine, Poelie, Helen
with whom, I spent so many pleasant hours.

And last, I light a candle for my husband .Mike.
My hand shakes and the hot wax burns my palm.
”Butterfingers” he would have said. “Let me do that for you.

It's still hard to live without him.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Being in the Minority

Is it unusual, or do other people like me also increasingly find themselves the only Christian at a social gathering.  Of course, here, at Evergreen,so many of the residents are ex-Zimbabweans and probably originally from the UK ,so it is not surprising to find a lot of non-believers. Church-going is not very popular in England these days. But apart from my friends from All Saints and St Martins so many of the people I spend time with are atheists.

The other evening  my friend, Joy, held a dinner party  as a  Farewell for a woman Ruth and her son who had been staying with her. When we were all seated ,the little boy, Luca, offered to say Grace. Joy accepted, and he did it very nicely. But Joy's friend and neighbour, Fabienne, was horrified at how the child had been "indoctrinated".  She was particularly perturbed by the short span of time in which this indoctrination had taken place. She kept on exclaiming that he had only been at a South African School for  such a short time and yet been so thoroughly indoctrinated. All the other adults except me(or should it be I) distanced themselves from this embarrassing evidence of religious belief. I remarked on the experience of being so often in the minority and said that it seemed that Atheism was very trendy. Fabienne took exception to the word "trendy. I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps she felt I was not taking her seriously enough. I am not sorry that I was prepared to stand up for my faith,  but I think I must learn to be more tactful. In my experience, atheists are inclined to be very touchy.

All through my life most of my friends have been non-believers or at least not church-goers, but it is only in the last few years that I have noticed many being so vocal about their lack of belief. There are numerous prosytelising  atheists around too.and on Social media anti-Christian sentiment is common.

I am not sure what the cause of this upsurge of atheism might be. Perhaps it is the interest generated by the work on the human Genome  which has made writings on Evolution popular. I Know Richard Dawkins has been very influential. His books on evolution have been best sellers.  although I'm not sure The extended Genotype (if I have remembered the title) was as widely read as :the Selfish Gene .  It is the God Delusion  that everyone has read and which I think may have  been a large influence in the drift towards Atheism in the English-speaking world, though other popular writers like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. have contributed too. On another level, Dan Brown's books, which I always considered just light entertainment, have been surprisingly influential. So many readers seem to have taken seriously the mishmash of old (and mostly discredited )myths and stories which form the background of the plots of his rather trashy novels.

Twenty years or so ago, remarks like those Fabienne made about "indoctrination" and "believing such silly stories"  would have been considered very bad manners.  Now, although it is not at all PC to insult Mohammed or belittle Islam, it is quite all right to say anything you like about Christians or the Christian faith. I suppose  we are expected accept this criticism meekly and  to turn the other cheek.

And on the subject of silly fairy tales, why do people like Fabienne think modern day Christians take the stories in Genesis absolutely literally. Surely even when they were first written, they were meant as allegories. The very names, Adam and Eve , meaning Man and Woman (or mother) show us how we are to understand their story.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Elusive Grand Marigold

Two weeks ago, my daughter, Shirley and I went off for a weekend  together. We had been planning this excursion for a long time. I have attended the annual McGregor Poetry Festival every year, but it was the first  time for Shirley. Granny, the old hand, was to organise everything. This turned out to be a mistake. First of all I found it  impossible to book events online. I had to ask Shirley to do so. I told her which ones I wanted, but somehow we managed to double book and acquire tickets  for two events in one slot. I did manage to do the airline bookings successfully after spending most of one frustrating morning at it and Shirley was able to arrive and depart  at the right times and on the right days. The accommodation, however was a different matter.

I found what seemed to be the ideal Bed and Breakfast place online. It was the exotic name.the Grand Marigold, that appealed to me. I duly booked two nights and received an E-mail confirming my booking.  I did not make a note of the street address or the phone number, but printed out the e-mail and put it in my bag. Unfortunately, I decided at the last moment to take a smaller handbag with me and the e-mail got left behind.

When we arrived in McGregor, early in the afternoon. I realised that I did not know where to find our accommodation, so we decided to go first to Temenos where the booking office was situated and where we would be able to get directions to the various venues. We were sure that the organisers would know the Grand Marigold. To our amazement, nobody there had ever heard of it!  Never, mind, we would go to the Tourist Office. The people working there would be bound to know where it was. No, they had never heard of it either. they had a list of places offering accommodation and a large board on which B and Bs and 'Self-catering rooms" were advertised. but the Grand Marigold did not appear on either. Booking sites on the Internet were consulted, lots of places found, but no Grand Marigold to be seen.
"Are you sure it is in Mcgregor and not in Robertson or Greyton?"
by this time I was not sure of anything except that we had come all the way to McGregor and now had nowhere to lay our heads.
The kindly lady in the tourist office offered to find us a room. At this late date it was an almost impossible task, but somebody appeared at the door just as we were about to give up with the news of a cancellation. A small cottage and we would have to  share a bed, but we took it.  It was quite close  being situated in Darling Street, which we thought was also the Street where the Grand Marigold was hiding, but though we drove up and down that street several times we found no sign indicating anything grand or Marigold. We saw someone coming out of a house and inquired of them where the Grand marigold might be."Never heard of it" was the answer."

On Sunday, about to leave, we were in the Booking office again. We told the lady behind the counter about our fruitless search for the Grand Marigold. She had never heard of it either, but she did a more comprehensive search on the Internet and  found it advertised there. There was even a picture of its front gates.
"I know those gates," she said. "It isn't the Grand Marigold. It is a place called the Loft"
It must have changed its name, but kept it a secret.
Back at home I received an E-mail asking why we had  not arrived at the Grand Marigold.


The room we booked had two big beds,
a kettle and  TV
We could have watched the breakfast show
while we drank our morning tea.

But though we searched McGregor
and everywhere around.
This most elusive B and B
was nowhere to be found.

McGregor Poetry Festival 2017

This year's Poetry Festival, the fifth one, was, I think, the best one for me. Because I was not doing a presentation, I was able to relax and attend more of the events. Best of all, I had the joy of introducing my daughter, Shirley, to McGregor and to the fun of hearing poetry and of writing it too. At the last event, an "Open Mic" she even took part and read a poem of her own!
One of the best things about the festival is the opportunity of meeting old friends, all writers or readers of poetry. For the first time, I was able to visit the donkey sanctuary. Unfortunately they were not doing tours as it was too late in the day, but we were able to see the donkeys from the other side of the fence. We also visited some art galleries and took home a wooden"sculpture".

Highlights of our weekend were the presentations of John Maythem and Finuala Dowling and the "Beat Poets" read by Chris Marais and co.

We had an unusual. adventure as well. we couldn't find the B and B in which we had booked a room and had to stay elsewhere, not quite as convenient but adequate.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Back Home

I am back home from the hospital where I  spent a comparatively short stay, although it seemed quite long to me. Two days later, I am still  high on all the attention and  loving concern poured over me. I thank God today for my recovery and more than that, for the love that has been shown me in such great measure. From the hospital staff who cared for me so well,  to all the many friends who sent caring messages and offers of assistance. Most of all I am thankful for my family. I am so blessed to have them. My daughter Shirley as soon as she heard,( and that must have been in the early hours,) caught a plane and was at my side the same morning. My grand-daughter-in-law came to see me before going to her work to let me know that she had looked after my dogs and fed them and that she would fetch Shirley from the airport. My grandson who was in California on holiday at the time at once organised a changed return flight and was in Cape Town two days later. All the others were constantly on the phone or e-mailing to find out how I was. I was especially touched by the cards and goodies that were sent by friends from the dog club.  All Saints, my church  family, all sent good wishes and told me they were praying for me and dear Father Stafford Moses came to visit to pray with me and to cheer me up.

I was in the new hospital, Melomed,very new, very lavish and very high-tech. I think they must have all the facilities there, because it seemed to me that (except for a major operation) I must have been subjected to every medical procedure and test  known to medical science. I lay in a bed in ICU attached to machines on both sides which monitored all my vital signs. All the figures the machines generated were filled in on a huge sheet. I felt as though I was being turned from a human being into a bundle of statistics. But whatever these procedures may have been like, eventually everything that was wrong with me was discovered and I am now more or less fixed. Except, of course, for a bucket full of pills which I have to take religiously for some weeks.still.

After all this excitement, life goes on as usual-- quite an anticlimax.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


In the old days before the microchip, we would be out of touch with one another all the time. Now we expect to be able to speak to friends and family on our cell phones at any time day or night. Have we become too dependent on these admittedly useful devices. Several years ago my charlady told me. "This little thing is your friend. Keep it close to you always" That was good advice and so I now never buy any item of clothing (except for panties and bras of course) that doesn't have a pocket that can hold my Samsung.and I carry it everywhere I go. But lately my "friend " has been letting me down. The battery doesn't hold charge for more than a few hours so I keep on missing calls and messages. Usually this doesn't matter much but yesterday it had disastrous consequences.

I had offered to fetch Luke's girlfriend and her son at the airport. Nicole and I had been sending text messages to one another about it and had agreed to meet at the pick-up zone. The plane was due at 12,15 so allowing for luggage collection etc. I planned to be at the aforesaid zone at 12 45. "Wait for me if I'm not there when you arrive" I told her.  I remembered to take my phone so we could get in touch as soon as the plane landed. I didn't remember to charge the silly thing in advance, but when I checked it before I left thought it's juice would last out. How wrong I was!

Having cancelled my Saturday Beginner Agility session, I duly set out for the airport just before 12. There was a bit more traffic on the road than I had expected so I arrived at Cape Town International a little later than I had intended, but still well before 1 pm. I took the turn-off signposted "Pick-up Zone" collected my parking ticket and found a bay, a rather narrow one, quite near the entrance. I noted that the plane had been delayed, but had landed a few minutes before. There was no sign of Nicole and Lucas at the pick-up Zone so I sat down to wait in a position from which I could see the stream of people emerging from the arrivals hall.

After waiting about twenty minutes, which is the longest I have had to wait for luggage collection myself, I thought it would be a good idea to get in touch with Nicole and tried to ring her number. My phone simply refused to do anything but tell me to recharge the battery. Nothing for it" I told myself. I'll just have to sit and wait until they appear. " But when more than half an hour had gone by I thought Nicole must missed the plane or have gone home some other way. She had no doubt sent a message to tell me about it and I had not received it. My free parking time had now run out. I went to the information desk and got them to page her, but there was no response. I couldn't find a way to charge my phone so decided to leave a message and  go home.

Meantime Nicole was standing outside the arrivals building in the drop-off zone. She was becoming frantic. Sure that I had been hijacked or had met with an accident she rang Luke who became a bit worried too and then Danielle who started ringing hospitals and police. Finally Nicole got an uber. She stopped off at Evergreen only to find that I had left hours before and was nowhere to be found. I drove home, not in the best of moods I must admit,and was told that Nicole had been looking for me. She wasn't in the best of moods either. I am glad to say that a plate of fish and chips each later, peace has been restored.

It struck me later that the advent of the cell phone has put paid to a whole genre of  stories. So many love stories and  romantic films produced in my youth centred round lovers failing to meet.. In those days this sort of thing happened all the time. I can't count how many times my husband and I made arrangements to meet which didn't come off because one of us went to the wrong meeting place.  Nowadays it only happens to old grannies like me.