To the bestest good girl

Anyone who knows me, also knows how attached I get to my animals. Tonight, I have to say a heartbroken goodbye to a precious soul I only knew for little over a year. But in that short time, she managed to become one of the most special dogs I’ve ever known.

She was truly man’s best friend. She was on the couch, on the bed and in the car. Wherever we went, she went. She wasn’t just a dog. She was part of our family and the house is cold and empty without her tonight…and tomorrow morning there will be no doggy-cuddles just before I get up.

Only last week we laughed at you for setting a trap to catch a cat, by placing a chip on the lawn and hiding around the corner, waiting for one of the cats to sniff it so you can chase him. We know that’s what you did because never before did you lie in that spot! Even the cats are wandering around wondering where you are today.

Your little bum-wiggle when you got a treat to go eat on the lawn never failed to amuse. And when you were given something you didn’t really want, you would still take it politely and bury it in the garden – “for later”. You would guard your food bowl, even if you didn’t want what was in it, just in case one of those pesky cats dared to sniff it!

You loved the kids (you even went to heaven with your toe nails painted pink) and you loved the beach, but hated the water. You were especially talented at selective hearing – ignoring a callback and pretending your age made you deaf, but waking up the instant you heard so much as a crumb hitting the bottom of your bowl. You loved eating. You could be fast asleep and someone would pass by with food 20 metres away and you would smell the hot pizza, making your nose sniff the air before you had properly woken up.

If the car-keys jangled your ears pricked up. You went camping and hiking and you knew the aisles of the hardware shop better than your dad. You got smuggled into nature reserves and saw places most dogs can only dream of. You were the best-traveled dog I have ever met.

I only knew you for a short while, but at least I had the privilege. You made friends wherever you went and I can see you wiggle-waggle your way across that rainbow bridge. You were only a little dog, but have left a gaping Jack-Russel-shaped hole in my heart, my house and my life…

How could I know this was to be the last picture I ever took of you?

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Cats – Indoors or out?

In many ways, cats are “easier” pets than dogs. They tend to clean up their own mess (when they can) and although kittens can get up to a lot of mischief, they are not nearly as destructive as puppies can be – most of the time, and in my personal opinion.

A while ago, I read an article about how a vet recommends you should keep your cat indoors. The article actually states to keep them indoors from dawn till dusk, but there are many ardent advocates for “indoor cats” and for various reasons, which all make perfect sense.

Cats are nature’s perfect little predators and can wreak havoc among the natural wild life in your garden. I despair every time I see my lot in a little druid’s circle on the lawn, because it’s more than likely they have some poor little creature cornered. One of the four is a bird catcher. The other likes mice. And the youngest can only seem to bring me giant cockroaches! The fourth one isn’t much interested in hunting, which makes me very happy. There is very sound scientific research stating exactly how much damage they can cause…

Little mouse rescued from the hunting party

Another reason for keeping cats indoors is for their own safety. This too, makes a lot of sense. Cats roam quite far and I may be called a very bad cat owner since two of my cats have actually been hit by cars. I was very lucky in the sense that both of them managed to make their way home and I was able to take them for treatment, but this last incident got me thinking really hard about this “for their own safety” thing.

I got my first cat while I was getting divorced. He lived in my bedroom for quite a while and I will never forget the day we finally moved into our own place. I didn’t even think to keep him indoors and I was walking towards the gate when I found him sitting on the lawn, eyes closed, obviously just enjoying the sun on his little furry face.

Our little family soon grew to three with the addition of two brothers. They never liked being indoors and started jumping out of the window as soon as they realised it was there. When we moved to our new house, I did try to keep them all inside for the required three weeks, but the gruesome twosome peed over everything. And I mean everything! Animal behaviourists can tell me whatever they like, these boys, did it to get a message across – there were litter trays aplenty and cat-calming wall-pluggy things all over the house. I woke up one morning to find one little bastard pissing on ME! He was squatting on my bed, peeing all over me. It all stopped the minute I let them into the garden…

So here is my question/ statement / problem: In the horsey world, we have seen many, many people turn to a more “natural” (although I have a problem with that term too! Food for a later post) ways of keeping horses – ie keeping them in fields instead of stabled all day and leaving them barefoot instead of shoeing them. There are many reasons to do this – horses develop all sorts of unnatural behaviours such as weaving, cribbing, windsucking, stall walking and many more because of the fact that they want to be outside, moving.

So what neurotic behaviours will cats develop when they are deprived of their natural instinct to hunt and roam? (They will pee on you, for one!) My cats obviously love being outside. The little guy who has just come back from hospital spends most of his day outside on the lawn (despite his bandaged leg and the fact that I tried desperately to keep him inside), or in my herb planter box. He has been cooped up and he wants nothing more than to be outside. I can say, I will keep them indoors for their own good, but mentally, what good does it do? I know one can build catios and all provide toys to try and keep them busy, but my only cat who enjoys the smorgasboard of toys is the one who doesn’t hunt…he still likes to go out and lie on the grass and bake in the sun….It is only my opinion, but I don’t think it is right to keep cats permanently locked up.

I want to be OUTSIDE!

Is it not the same as locking my child in her room and saying she is not allowed out because I’m scared she will get hurt? Where does one draw the line?

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Back in the saddle!

Anyone who knows me might be surprised that I went without sitting on a horse for more than a year. The ten-year-old me is looking at me with utter incomprehension written all over her face. The 41-year-old me is simply content to have found my way back, onto the back of a horse again.

It wasn’t that the opportunities weren’t there. Many caring friends did offer me rides. People who don’t necessarily know me that well, but who know the effect horses have over the lives of us horsey-girls offered me rides too!

In February, just before the world went to hell in a hand-basket I had a bit of a false start. Even though I work for an equine welfare, I don’t work with the horses themselves, but an opportunity did present itself. Then LOCKDOWN happened. I couldn’t quite explain it then and I can’t fully explain it now. But even if it didn’t get railroaded by a virus, the timing was still a little off for me.

Since I can remember remembering, all I have ever wanted was to ride horses. And as I have explained in many posts over the years, my parents did everything in their power to let me ride horses. But as with everything in life, it’s hard work, determination and an inordinate amount of luck that make ‘dreams come true’. I know some people believe in making their own luck, and I get that to a certain degree. But it’s easy to say you worked for what you have when you haven’t had the kind of shit luck that I have had over the years with regards to horses.

I have owned some pretty wonderful horses over the years, and for that I am more fortunate than many others. But it seems every time I find a horse that I can really make a go of things with, it somehow goes tits-up. Even when I had a less than perfect horse, who I loved to death and persevered with through all sorts of life’s storms, I never had quite enough resources. I could see the goal post, but I just couldn’t quite reach. There wasn’t enough money for enough lessons to make proper progress. There was always something that would trip me up…

The last round, was too much to bear. Even though I realise that the fact that I bought a horse, shouldn’t be and couldn’t be and isn’t the real reason my marriage failed, I blamed horses. It was their fault and it was my fault because something in me was obviously faulty if it made someone who claimed to love me, walk away from me. It was a fundamental flaw in my being. That is how I perceived it in any case, without even realising!

I have been moping and sulking just been generally unpleasant because it didn’t make sense. It didn’t compute. I thought, for the second time in my life, that perhaps it was time to let this expensive, time-consuming, man-driving-away “hobby” go. And a part of me died…

But about two weeks ago, I decided to take my life back. I decided to take me back. Even if no-one else ever again understands this part of me, I will not deny it. I will nurture it and I will grow it because it is not something I do, it is who I am.

The most surprising thing about riding again, is not how unfit I actually am, although even the level of my unfitness, surprised me somewhat! No, the most surprising thing is my lack of confidence!

I had my own horse and rode other horses for most of my life, and yet, I couldn’t remember how to do it properly! It’s not simply that the muscles had gone to sleep, even when they are working, I am still wondering if I am doing it right, and if I ought not to rather give up “pretending” to know what I’m doing and buy a donkey to walk along on the beach with. (Although, if that particular scenario presented itself, I would do that too!)

It may just be the fact that someone I admire and respect is trusting me with her horse and I’m terrified of messing up! Because we all know that a person asking if they can ride your horse is akin to, or perhaps even more impertinent than, asking to borrow your spouse for a night of unadulterated fun. And we know that someone letting you ride their horse is a great honour and privilege, which has the potential of lurking disaster…

Despite my fears and personal reservations about being “good enough for the job at hand” I am enjoying myself immensely. It does my very soul good and it makes me a better person!

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Life on hold…

When we first embarked on this wild ride that is the current Corona-crisis, I rather en joyed this whole social isolation-thing. In a week’s time, South Africa will have been on lockdown for three months. As it stands, we are on day 116 of this rabbit-hole of insanity.

I admit, some parts are still rather enjoyable. I love the flexibility I have when it comes to work. I can work whatever hours I choose, doing laundry and general house-chores in between. I do adore the fact that since it’s winter here in SA, I can sleep a little bit later and snuggle in my warm bed on stormy mornings, instead of having to face peak-hour traffic. I am most grateful that I still have a job and a constant income.

I do not enjoy having to play school-teacher to my children. God knows, if I wanted to be a teacher, I would have been one. I most definitely did not. Children, even ones as good as mine, don’t want to work as hard for their mothers as they would for a teacher. I am tired of the constant high tensions.

One would think that having the kids here all day, would give us more time to be together, but it has in fact had quite the opposite effect. Because there is no clear line between work-time and home-time, I seem to working more, rather than less. They are constantly at the wrong end of “I have to work now” and it’s just not fun. I do realise that this is something I can actually change and I’m working on it.

Then, there is the fact that we are just constantly in each others faces. I get cabin-fevery quite easily and in general, I need a lot of “me-time”. It has not been easy for anyone to be locked up with me for nearly three months, least of all me.

I have been dealing with this more or less constant existential crisis for a while now and the world being on “pause” is not making things any easier. As a natural loner, it is normally easy for me to go many weeks without seeing friends and I don’t have any pressing need for great social gatherings, but even I miss my friends sometimes. The problem is that now, there is nothing to do, and therefore nothing to talk about. Even if I did see people, I have no idea what I would talk to them about, other than moaning about the same things everyone else is moaning about.

It is hard to plan for any type of future when everything you know is suddenly turned wrong-side up, especially when you didn’t know what you were planning for, even before this whole ordeal began. And it’s not just me. My sister, who was widowed a couple of years ago I am sure has it much harder. It is almost like the whole of life is going along with the handbrake on and we are all holding our breaths, waiting to see what will happen next. (In this crazy country where the president and his team of so-called experts issue the one nonsensical proclamation after another, we truly don’t know what to expect next.)

There are still the simple pleasures. As I watched my children and the dog darting through puddles left by the recent rain, and listening to them shout gleefully, I did manage to laugh with them. The soft fur and vibrating body of a purring cat under my hand or the dog curled up snugly in the small of my back at night, being told I’m sexy despite weighing as much as when I was 9 months pregnant, the whole family crowded into the double bed for story time during loadshedding….yes, these are all good things. Good, simple things. And although they make the everyday dreariness of life marginally more bearable, they hardly make up for the complete lack of purpose that seems to be drowning me…

 

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Life in the time of Corona Day seven hundred and 69 thousand and 800…and twenty: Dazed, confused and a little bit angry

I don’t like talking about politics. Ever. I simply don’t understand it. And I don’t feel that I can talk sensibly about something that I cannot fully comprehend. I like science. I am a trained scientist of sorts, after all, and I have the degrees to prove it. Science is based on hypotheses and statistics and facts. It is not always as easy to dispute a fact or “scientifically prove” something as it might seem. Research takes time, money, patience, more money and more time. More often than not, as science progresses, things that we once thought were “true” no longer are, or are only true in certain instances, barring certain conditions and there is almost always a caveat of some sorts. Which now that I think about it, makes science really rather complicated…

The problem is that scientific research needs financial backing. And in order to secure financial backing, science has become more and more politicized. People are not simply doing research because they find it interesting or because they are trying to figure out “how the world works”. People are doing research to try and help a dying planet. People are trying to find ways in which the human race might be able to keep living on a planet which they have been systematically destroying since they came into existence.

Politicians are trying to garner popularity and votes. They need the people who vote them into power to think they care about these issues. (Very real issues – world hunger, climate change, animal rights and also infections which have the power to destroy the human race). They are not as clever as they pretend to be, however, and now they are forced to rely on second-hand information of which they only understand a fraction. It is the responsibility of the clever people that hand them this information to make sure they understand it, but that is also easier said than done. And once they have they information, there is no telling what they might do with it. The truth isn’t always conducive to popularity.

With the advent of the internet however, things have become severely muddled. There is supposed “knowledge” to be found anywhere. I can wake up today and decide that in actual fact the sky is not blue, but purple and there is evidence for it somewhere on the internet. Click on the link and read it.  I’ll wait…

See, what did I tell you? And it’s so, very scientific too!

The problem is that a little bit of knowledge is very dangerous. It can make you think you understand things which you actually don’t. So if someone came to me and said they saw the sky as purple I would still suggest they have an eye test, despite whatever they found on the big bad internet.

However. With everyone and his uncle being a pseudo-scientist now, it becomes really very difficult to distinguish between fact, fiction and the much more dangerous pseudo-scientific junk that you find all over. The amount of information available is simply overwhelming and it is just about impossible to make out what is true, what is propaganda and what is absolute shite! Everyone is sharing information from “this Doctor from Italy”, or this “Nurse from such and such a hospital”, thinking they are helping  – thinking, rather I share this information and it’s not true, than I didn’t share it and could have saved someone.

All it really does is confuse the issue and everyone else. It is good to have knowledge. It is good to share knowledge. It is very irresponsible to share information that is emotionally charged and not properly checked. Even this fact-checking business can be tedious and confusing, but with all the information at your fingertips, it’s not that hard to check someone’s credentials before you share their so-called facts.

As usual, I do not have any answers, but only questions that will lead us further down this quagmire of half-truths and corrupt politicians.

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Broken…

I realise now that I have been lying to myself for about two years and four months. I have been telling myself that I’m OK. I’ve been telling myself the divorce was a mutual decision and we are both better off without each other. This, in some weird way is still true, but…I am angry. I am really bitter and I am really angry, and I have possibly been directing this anger at all the wrong people.

I have been in a bad head space. I have been mostly feeling…dead. Well, so I haven’t really been feeling much at all. I feel like a dry husk of nothingness. I don’t get excited and nothing seems to fill me with joy, or even the prospect of joy anymore.

Since I’ve had to sell my horse, I have been half a person. I am an automaton. I take one breath in, one breath out and a step forward. I just keep going because I don’t seem to have another option. I don’t feel alive. I feel like “life” has beaten me. I won’t even try to get up again because I am so sick of being kicked in the teeth just as I think things might possibly get better. I don’t want to ride. I don’t want to go anywhere near horses if I can help it. I tried going to ride a friend’s horse once, and it only made me feel worse. I have lost the only thing, the only part of me that made any sense.

BB en ek 3

How is this in any way related to divorce and anger and ex-husbands you may ask? Well, see, it’s like this: I have always only had one passion in life, which was horses. I was never particularly good at riding and had to work quite hard to be any good. But it made me feel alive. It made sense to me. It wasn’t something I just did, it was who I was. Then I met a young man.

**He didn’t always understand this passion, but he claimed to love me all the same. He promised to love me and cherish me for the rest of my life, despite this glitch in my being. He said he would support me and stand by me for the rest of my life. He promised me this. In front of his God and his family. But it turned out he was a liar. He made me believe that he loved me, only to throw me away when I refused to do exactly what he wanted. Because he was responsible and caring, it was easy to leave all the big life-decisions to him. I didn’t mind when he made big decisions by consulting his parents and just informed me of the decisions once they had already been made, because it was for everyone’s benefit.

But he knew who I was. He had known that before he made all those promises. So when I made a decision that did not fit in with his plans for the future, he broke them. He had always known who I was and what I wanted. I had never made a secret of it. It wasn’t as if I got a horse later in life. When he met me, I had just taken my MSc bursary money and bought a horse (the fourth, not the first horse in my life) with it for god’s sake!

Then, suddenly one day, I was living with a stranger. He told me if I didn’t sell the horse, we had nothing left to talk about. For some reason he thought the fact that I never wanted children before I met him, and made one of the greatest sacrifices of my life by becoming a mother, because that was what he had wanted, meant that I didn’t want my children. For some reason he thought I would quietly pack my bags, kiss my kids goodbye and disappear from his life. It made no sense to me. It still doesn’t, and neither did the next many months of pain, fighting and spite.

It turns out I didn’t really know who I had been married to for the previous ten years at all. We had been divorced all of two days when the post hit social media and the very first weekend the kids spent with me, his new fancy woman stayed over. Now, a little over two years down the line, I see her living my life. And it pisses me off!

I find it rather interesting that he can pay me the exact amount of childcare that my horse would have cost, (which he refused to pay, because we didn’t have the money) but he can still manage to redo the whole kitchen (which was the first thing we were going to change in that house, but couldn’t ever afford). He was never happy with what we had. He always wanted to move to a fancier neighbourhood and a bigger, fancier house. We didn’t have the money. But now, apparently, he can afford all this and more. We could never go on a date or a weekend away by ourselves, because he didn’t want to burden his parents to look after the children. The children tell me they now often stay over with granny…In the ten years that we were married, we went on two holidays that were not with his parents. One of those was with my parents. The other was a camping weekend. The only conclusions I can draw are that he lied to me and was simply not willing to spend the money on me, or, more likely, the new fancy woman has more money than I had.

Now, I do a lot of introspection. And I wasn’t always a great wife. Sometimes I must have been a goddamn nightmare to live with. I have been beating myself up for two years, trying to work out how I messed up, how if I had tried harder, been different, it might have worked. He is known as the good guy. He got all our friends in the divorce settlement, after all. So if he is such a good man, then it must be my fault? But it wasn’t. I will no longer shoulder all the blame. Once he decided he no longer wanted me, he used my deepest, darkest secrets against me. He took the things I am most ashamed about and used them as weapons to hurt me. Even now, he refuses to let our daughter ride. She begs. Every time I see her she asks me when she can start riding lessons. I have stopped mentioning it to him because he simply ignores it, like everything else he doesn’t like. He believes if he ignores things they will go away.

The fact is, it takes two to fuck up a marriage. Mine got fucked up and I am angry about it!

**Please take note that everything written here this is purely from my point of view.

 

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Customer care in the time of Corona (Lockdown day 60 – so I’m told)

This post will be a bit of a rant. So if you are not in the mood for negativity, then click “back” and go away.

People overuse the word “amazing” but it amazes me, it truly does amaze me, that while all companies at this time tout how they are protecting their staff, are still managing to sell you new products, without making sure you are happy with things they previously sold you, or making arrangements for any after-sales care.

Now, customer service has never been a big thing here in South Africa. Companies generally tend to get away with whatever they like doing because the South African public is too polite to complain about bad service.

During the last two months, I have been fortunate enough to work from home. One thing one needs when working from home, is reliable phone and internet. I have been a Vodacom customer for many years now. The Ex works there, so it was natural to have a phone contract with them. Last year when they offered me a data contract with a little notebook-thingy, it was a nice-to-have, at a price I could afford. Thank the stars I took it then, because it has now become a necessity! (A fact which I was able to point out rather smugly to the Boyfriend recently as he was heavily opposed to the deal!)

Skip to the present. I needed a new phone line. It is ever so easy to do everything online these days. You choose your “deal” and they phone you back and it’s all settled on the phone. God forbid anything should go wrong though, because apparently Vodacom employees can’t email from home.

It is just about impossible to get hold of an actual talking person and they can never help you, even when you call the wrong department just so you can speak to someone, ANYONE so they put you straight back through “Customer Care”. Vodacom Customer Care, 082 135, is absolutely, 100% USELESS! You have the option of checking your balances and if that is not the problem you had, then sorry for you. With everything being online at the moment, it would be my guess that most people can actually find out their balances without having to call Customer-We-Don’t-Care. And then I’m not even talking about their stupid little chat-bot Tobi, who is even more useless! All he can do is tell you to contact your service provider! FFS Tobi, what did you think I was trying to do here?

So, here I am sitting with a brand new contract, with a phone I can’t ensure, because someone made a mistake somewhere and didn’t do it properly. This means I have to wait for a shop to open so I can go in and see an actual human being, by which time they will tell me that the 7 days since delivery has lapsed and I can’t insure the damn thing with them anymore…I am frustrated. I am frustrated to the point where I want to jump up and down like Rumpelstiltskin and tears are running down my cheeks, but I am not actually crying. I am pissed off! And the worst thing is, I can’t call anyone. You can’t call Vodacom customer care, because they seem to be set up to deal only with selling things and not problem-solving and after-sales care….

Next up: Takealot. I love buying online. I love the fact that I can order and it gets delivered at my door. Even more than that, I love buying ebooks! It’s amazing that you click on a link and you have a new book! It’s AMAZING (yes, I did that on purpose), albeit slightly dangerous for someone who already owns more books than they are ever likely to read in this lifetime…

But, I digress. This time, it was not books I was after. As wondeful as smart phones are, they seem to be forever running out of space. Meaning that we need extra storage space in the form of a Micro-SD card. Now, for some reason I am still unable to fathom, one could buy this seemingly non-essential item online (only in Level 4 mind!). So I ordered it. And then, to fill up the order and because we needed it, I bought dog food. Then my dog died. So I no longer needed the dog food. The children were here and we were all extremely emotional so I thought it would be better if the dog food just never arrived. So I returned it before it actually arrived. Note to self: don’t do that again!

Monday morning at 9am, the bell rings. Takealot is here to pick up the parcel I returned. No, I say, it hasn’t actually ARRIVED yet, please come back later. You would think they could check their OWN system for details such as these? But no. Apparently not.

So I wait…and wait …and wait…because I received and SMS saying that my parcel would arrive before 5pm. 5pm comes and goes and no parcel. So I decide to check their system. They have never failed me before. But how now? It says my parcel was delivered. And I signed for it. It says so. Right there. On their thingy. It says I signed for it? I know I didn’t. I am perturbed.

So I send a query. Where is my parcel please? I really need it. I wait. Because although Takealot employees can send emails from home, it takes them 72 hours to answer them. Fair enough. But nothing happens. After the expired 72 hours I send another email. Nothing continues to happen…so I send another, rather more demanding message.

This time I get a reply, and it seems this person is actually willing to help me! Whoohoo! I tell him what happened and we agree that he will refund the dog food and resend the SD cards. But instead, the driver who was supposed to deliver the package (the one who must have faked my signature!) calls to tell me that he can’t deliver one half of an order, he has to take it all back. Fine, I say, take it back, credit the money and I will redo the whole order from scratch.

So I wait. No refund. I email again. Oh no, they are just waiting for the warehouse to confirm that the SD-cards are signed back in. It is now a week since I was supposed to have received it. I don’t really care. I never got it. I never signed for it, and the fact that someone says I did, is in my mind, fraud!

I won’t bore you with all the details but this experience was one of the most frustrating I can remember in a long time. Two weeks and nearly 30 emails later (talking to SIX different people!), I am finally refunded. Swak, Takelot, really swak!

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Life in the time of Corona: Day 25 (or thereabouts) of lockdown

Well, well, well….This here little virus has reshuffled the world indeed! And made people think about things – or at least pretend to. Everybody is claiming to appreciate family, friends and social gatherings more, but we shall see how long these new resolutions last once life goes “back to normal”.

My phone fell and got smashed up the night before we were supposed to be locked in. It still works, sort of, mostly. Then last week, the SD card with ALL my photos also decided to give up the ghost. Luckily, I was able to somehow download them and save them to a computer, but it makes my phone almost unusable without it, because of that lack of storage. I’m not sure exactly what message the universe is trying to send me. Should I be giving up all contact with the outside world, or just appreciate my “tech” more? In the bigger scheme of things, these are all just minor inconveniences.

One smashed cell phone

During this time, I am able to work from home, so I can’t really go without the “connectedness” the internet and all my “devices” give me. I can’t say that I feel any more or less connected to anyone or anything. I just get on with what I need to do. I for one, have really enjoyed the slower pace (I think I might have mentioned this before).

But it has made me feel very fortunate. I can do my most important work from home and I continue to be paid. Therefore, I am able to buy food and all other essentials and I will have a job to go back to. Apart from some minor catching up to do, I should be OK. I can sit and wait this all out. There really are people out there who would not have had enough money to stockpile anything before lockdown, and who cannot earn anything during. I feel very blessed indeed to be in the position I am in!

Today though, I hit a bit of a wobble! After a month with their dad, I decided I wanted to see my children. That meant doing their schooling. At home. Alone. As I am struggling to get through grades 2 and 4 for the second time, I realise that things have certainly changed in the last 30 years! For one, I swear the work is much, much harder! I have a Master’s Degree in Molecular Genetics, but I can’t figure out how to do “long multiplication”, never mind explain it to my child!

For another, with all the “connectedness” parents are way more involved in their children’s education than what our parents ever were! Even before lockdown, nervous mothers were keeping me awake at night about homework and projects on all the various whatsapp groups. When I was at school, I just listened in class, did my work and got into trouble if things weren’t done. Nowadays, it seems that aside from the extra pressure placed on children by teachers and schools, parents insist on adding to that pressure by being overly involved. But how will their children learn to take responsibility?

I guess all those over-involved parents are all laughing at me now though! As I scramble to try and figure out which subjects need what done and getting printouts from the X (who has a printer at home) and trying to find the suggested videos on Youtube, I am once again rather humbled. Despite the insanity of home schooling two children (when I expressly never wanted to be a teacher, working with young children!) at least, if I put my mind to it, it can be done. I once again wonder about all those living in much less fortunate circumstances without access to printers and teachers on whatsapp. How will this affect their children’s schooling and the future of our country? The system is already failing them. How will it possibly help them catch up?

There was a post fluttering about social media saying how we ought to realise that we really only needed farmers. Although I understand this very real and necessary function performed by our farmers and I have had a fluttering of panic when I went to the grocery store and found the fresh produce shelves completely empty, I don’t entirely agree with this statement. At this time, people have taken to social media and more than ever to try and stay connected. And what is it they share? They share songs, videos, jokes and recipes for home-brewed beer! The point is, that in order to survive, I do believe we need more than just physical sustenance.

For as long as man has existed, we have been drawing on cave walls, telling and re-telling stories around the fire. We have been dancing and finding ways to express ourselves. Why should our current society be any different? We simply share through a digital medium and reach a much bigger audience than a woolly mammoth painted onto a cave wall. But the idea stays the same. We want to share. We need to be connected. Survival is more than having food to eat and shelter to sleep in. And as much as we don’t want to see it, art and culture is what binds us together. When we don’t have food, we will sing and dance to lift our spirits. As long as we don’t feel alone in a situation, as long as our experience is a shared experience, it’s not so bad…

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Life in the time of Corona: Lockdown Day 12 – I think…

We are just a tad further than half-way through our 21-day house arrest. That is, if it doesn’t get extended, which in all probability, it will. I am sorry for everyone who sees this enforced downtime as a bad thing. I am rather enjoying it and am already dreading things going back to “normal”.

For almost three years now, I have been begging life to give me a break. Since my marriage fell apart I have wanted nothing more than a little “time-out” from life. Many health professionals (read shrinks!!) have suggested that I be admitted to a clinic to recover from the overwhelming anxiety, but I really, and I mean REALLY, detest hospitals and doctors. I have been trying to explain to all of them, that all I really need, is a break. Just a little time-out to get my shit together. But no-one would give me the chance…unless I agreed to be hospitalised, which I think I very unfair indeed!

What would have been really ideal is to have had enough money to go on an extended holiday somewhere in the wilderness. Away from all modern conveniences and social media and the pressures of work and life. But that wasn’t possible. So I have been hanging on by the skin of teeth for nearly three years. Other people have paid for this – my colleagues and my children; all those closest to me.

Then, there were rumblings about a virus in China. I didn’t pay too much attention. It was far away. More and more people got infected and then some started to die. Still, didn’t really affect my life.

People were afraid. The virus can cause a fairly serious illness and even lead to death. So the world went insane and the government decided to lock us in our houses. People started downright panicking and buying shit they wouldn’t really need – who in their right mind fights over toiler paper, people? Really? But it seemed to be for real. I have mentioned this whole madness in a previous post so I won’t go into that again.

However, halfway through our involuntary house arrest, I am really rather enjoying myself! I love the slower pace. I love that I can get on with my things and arrange my day as it pleases me. I can do my laundry while the sun shines and catch up on my work when it doesn’t. It’s bloody great! I am one of the lucky ones who is able to work from home, but even if I wasn’t I think I would have really enjoyed these three weeks.

Unlike a lot of other people, I didn’t have all sorts of plans. I didn’t plan to learn a new language. I didn’t plan to get in shape. (I also didn’t decide to unintentionally gain weight, but hey, these things happen). There are things I wanted to do, but at the beginning of the 21 days, there seemed to be a lot of time left. Now, halfway through, I have decided that I can do it all later and use the rest of this time to just rest and live at a slower pace…

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Life in the time of CORONA: Lockdown day 1

And then, in 2020, the world finally went mad…

I (along with a lot of other people) have been saying that there is something very wrong with our general society and the way we live. But we have been unable to come up with any real solutions to the problem, because as Neil Daimond says, although “money talks, it don’t sing and dance and it don’t walk” (remember that, I’m coming back to that later!)

Then, for the last three months, I have been watching the world turn slowly on its head. One little virus has made society seriously rethink its priorities. I have quite deliberately not paid it too much attention because first, in this age of information everyone is suddenly an expert and it takes more effort to sift through what is fact and what is fiction than to find the information in the first place. Secondly, in my own personal little opinion, which will undoubtedly be rather unpopular, the world can do with a bit of a population reduction…

Over the last week, however, I have been forced to pay attention as South Africa first closed the schools early, and then went into total lockdown. While both of these actions make sense the way they were implemented don’t make sense to me.

Take the schools: if you are going to close the schools, in order to protect the children, then why, would you wait two days? Why not close them with immediate effect? This makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever!

Then, the announcement that the entire country would go into lockdown for 21 days. All very well and good, but why on earth not implement the measures with immediate effect? Instead, you give the citizens three days to “prepare” or whatever, sending everyone into a frenzy of panic buying, resulting in hundreds of people conglomerating in the same spot to make sure they get whatever they need. If you were serious, why not just lock everything down straight away, and that way stop the thing you want to stop – which is people. Together. In one spot.

I resisted hoarding toilet paper and all sorts of other things. But two days ago, I actually needed some things. By the time I got home, my hands were revolting from all the bloody hand sanitiser that had been forcefully sprayed on them and my head was sore from everywhere smelling like the inside of a hospital. People looked ridiculous with their gloves and masks (which, by the way have not been shown to reduce transmission) but they completely failed to do the one thing that was asked – keeping a fucking distance! I was standing in the queue at the pharmacy, because I actually needed to buy my chronic medication. I stood there for an hour. That queue has never been that long. EvER. Behind me was a man, very tall, and looking rather well educated. Do you think he could keep his distance? NO. He kept towering over me until I wedged my trolley in between the two of us and stood my meter away from the guy in front of me.

As if the general idiocy wasn’t enough, there had to be a pissing contest between various ministers, with the one announcing that there would be no selling of alcohol or cigarettes – a day before the lockdown. Do you have any idea how panicky a smoker gets when he/she realises they can’t get to any smokes? It’s like the world is ending! So, needless to say, hundreds of smokers bombarded shops and bought cartons of cigarettes and we won’t even mention the throngs of people in the liquor stores. Complete madness.

While I hear people planning all sorts of things for the next three weeks; fitness challenges, learning new languages and I don’t know what else. I don’t have much of a plan at all. I will be practicing taking things as easy as I can, and doing the bare minimum of what my job asks me to do.

Thus we get to the end of day one. More posts will follow!

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