Update

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Ha! Surprised you by not being dead again. This in spite of the husband and I having horrid malaria over the long weekend – and one can’t help but think why couldn’t this happen during the week??  I was stricken on Sunday and he on Tuesday; the grim strain that leaves you sleepless yet exhausted, too weak to do anything more than recline on the couch and watch the Discovery channel until you start seeing TV snow behind your eyelids.

Back in May we were having an infinitely more wonderful time holidaying in Croatia.

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“The beach” on Kolocep Island, reached by a thirty minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik

We spent a few days in the coastal city of Dubrovnik, then trekked for the greater part of two days around the amazing Plitvice National Park with its crystalline lakes and

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Getting our hike on in Plitvicka Jezera, as they say

hundreds of waterfalls, and finished up with a day exploring funky Zagreb.

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Town square viewed from the 16th floor of The Zagreb Eye

Thereafter I spent two weeks with my parents in South Africa and my mom flew back with me for her first visit to Kitwe. Is it only awesome travelling with a wheelchair-bound person! We had been a little worried about it but SAA assigned us an escourt who whizzed us through the security and immigration queues, left us to have a coffee and then boarded us on the plane first. A little less impressive was the wheelchair mix-up at Ndola – we would have left with the wrong wheelchair had I not looked down at the sticker on the side panel in the parking lot and said, “Mom, this isn’t your chair.” So there were a few minutes of hustling but they got it to us.

Weirdly, my mom loved Kitwe, but I guess it’s easier to love when you don’t live here with all the social and paperwork challenges, routine electricity and water issues, the year-round malaria threat (perhaps not so much during rainy season), October to December heat, the plague of summer flies… Oh, and the great night-time carolling of the Kitwe Dogs Choir in Riverside, who may or may not be suffering some kind of Chinese torture. “My God!” my mom remarked, “Listen to those dogs!” Graeme has walked down the road many an evening trying to figure out which house the banshee chorus of howling comes from in order to report it to KAWS, but still can’t be sure. During the day, there’s nothing out of the ordinary or I would have sniffed around.

 

 

 

Shudders in the Dentist’s Chair

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In life there are two kinds of people – those who have problem-free teeth and those with multiple root canals, bridges and basically their life’s savings invested in their traumatized mouths. I fall into the latter category.

I have officially lost all faith in South African dentistry since one rush-job woman ignored the pending cavity that I was worried about, calling it “just staining” and proceeded to remove two mercury fillings that weren’t any problem and replacing them with white filling. I went home and was in tears once the numbness wore off. Subsequently a roaring abscess developed and an Indian dentist in Zambia looked at my x-rays perplexed. “How could someone work so deep without doing a root canal?” he mused. He did a root canal and crown on the affected tooth and all was well for some time, until an abscess appeared on my gum next to the second re-done filling. Eventually I had a South African dentist do a root canal on that tooth, but he said a filling would do just fine on top of it.

Just over a year down the line, said filling chipped. Then I felt some swelling in my gum. Another Indian dentist in Zambia sees on the x-ray that the root canal wasn’t done properly – the file wasn’t pushed right down to the end of the root so the root tip had calcified and infection had set in around it. Bloody awesome. So after a course of antibiotics and six weeks of religious oil-pulling failed to resolve things (although strangely the roots did straighten out a bit, I credit the oil-pulling for that) I agreed to try the apoecectomy route.

If I had to do it again, I would, but I would take a couple of tranquilisers first! In what was merely a thirty minute procedure the gum was cut open (yes, after two numbing injections of course), the jaw bone was attacked with a scalpel and then drilled.

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Not a pedestrian trip to the dentist…

All the while I was trying not to pass out watching blood getting sucked up the tube that the assistant was holding in my mouth. Somewhere towards the end of the treatment I was so tense I bit my lip. That turned out to be more of a nuisance than the apoecectomy itself. “Oh dear, you have bitten your lip. That is a very pointy canine,” the dentist said.

“It’s fine,” I mouthed through a cheekful of gauze, worried he might decide to punish the offending point with his drill.

And what a gash it was, truly worthy of a bar fight. “What happened to you?” aghast husband asked.

“I bit my lip.” He was staring. “Is it bad?”

“Ummm, yeah.”

At home I eventually worked up the nerve to look at my puffy lip with a trail of meat raked out of it and burst into tears.

“It will heal, it won’t be so bad,” Graeme tried to assure me, hugging and rocking me.

“I’m like Frankenstein!” I wailed.

“Can I take a picture?”

“Fuck off!!”

Two weeks later the Frankenstein comment may have been a little exaggerated. In fact, I should have let Graeme take the picture whilst it still looked impressive.

Thank God for PVR

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For as long as we’ve been married, my husband and I cannot tolerate watching live TV, DSTV in particular. What is the point of having adverts about DSTV on DSTV since only viewers who are already subscribed to their 40% television diet of shitty commercials are going to be seeing it. And whilst it may be a good idea to promote upcoming shows, surely running the MasterChef or The Bachelor promos four times in twenty minutes is a little bloody repetitive. I mean, give me credit for a thirty minute memory, okay? At least!

 

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It is with some sadness that I have had to ditch E! Entertainment News in favour of actual real world news like eNCA, Sky News and CNN, because I would rather watch real-life tragedy and brutality than another nasal-intoned promotion of The Kardashians, or The Real Housewives of Trailer Park Creek (not showing yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s on the cards given how desperate reality TV has become), or the latest scoop on Honey BooBoo. What is really frightening to think about is that there are people out there whose lives are empty enough to be lapping up this trollop hour after mindless hour, and I refer not only to the five hundred pound behemoths trapped in abusive feeder-boyfriend relationships who physically can’t escape their living rooms…but seemingly normal people who you would bump into doing groceries. They can think coherently enough to write a shopping list, so you’d think they would watch something more substantial than Duck Dynasty and Say Yes To The Dress in their off time.

Thank goodness that there are still some good shows on TV and that I can fast forward through all the adverts, reducing an hour on the couch to a mere forty minutes.

Techno Schmeckno

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It has happened. I have become one of those gammy old gits I used to laugh at who bemoan the progress of technology. It actually started just over a year ago when my dear husband bought me a Samsung X Cover 3. A what? As you may well ask, since even those in the know about smartphones haven’t heard about it and despite trawling many a cellphone cover shop I couldn’t find a cover for it – eventually we settled for a lady snipping up a screen cover for another model just to protect the screen from all my makeup, sunscreen, earwax and all that other apparent goop that lives on your face/ear which you were previously happily oblivious to until you used a cellphone.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not as if I was living in the Dark Ages prior to that. I had a sweet little Nokia Asha which for the most part I loved except when it felt temperamental and would blip a few flashing black and then technicolour screens at me when I wanted to use WhatsApp, on occasion. Mysteriously, I never had to load data on the thing, it updated WhatsApp without any dramas and the only thing I wanted that it couldn’t offer was the ability to make WhatsApp calls. Hence hubby taking matters into his own hands and buying me the alien phone.

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Kill it! Kill it now, before it destroys your sanity!!!

So this gosh darn thing has to be set up with a gmail account. Are you serious? But why? I don’t want to have my bloody emails popping up on my phone anyway. I handed it over to Husband. “Just…just do all that crap. Make it work.” So he created a new gmail account and made the bloody thing user friendly. Over the next three months I visited two cellphone shops until the second solved my issue of magically disappearing data by changing the update option to update applications (of which I tried to have nothing, I mean fucksakes – can you remember when we just used phones to talk to people?) only when connected to wifi. Awesome. Sorted.

Then, when Google recently decided to upgrade their shit, as these bored techno schmucks are wont to do, I was signed out of my account. Do you think I put in a backup email address? Do you think I put my phone number into recovery options? Well, of course not. I swear the whole thing was deliberately orchestrated to throw a whole bunch of biddies like me into mayhem. So now that I have no way of authenticating my account I had to create a new one, recapture my entire address book manually and discovered I can no longer add posts to my blogspot. Fuck-a-freaking-rama. And what the heck gives with all this crazy-ass security anyway? The CIA, the FBI, Sacha Baron Cohen…none of them could give a flying fig about some little nobody merrily taking pictures in her garden and captioning them with lala Smurf comments. In the unlikely event that some basement dwelling, nose-picking, serial-masturbating geek were to hack into my blog and post pictures of naked ladies on it, I wouldn’t be hugely fussed either. Hell, it might even raise my profile to some kind of significance. So screw you, Google. Take your blog space and stick it.

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I feel like one already.

Only days later I had to update WhatsApp on the evil alien phone. For this purpose I had to logon with my gmail account that Hubby had created. “What password did you put on here?” I asked.

“I don’t know! I would have asked you for a password,” he replied, annoyed.

“I don’t bloody know. Didn’t you write it down?”

He: *exasperated look*

“Sort it out, please.”

He was dumped with the phone, since I had tried signing on with my new account (of which I have the address and password now written in a paper notebook, in pen) to no avail. Half an hour later he gave up. In any event, I had been moodily hanging up the laundry outside picturing how long I would have to wait to be serviced at the Makuba Mall MTN store and if they could even solve my issue with these bloody email passwords. I sat down on the couch with the phone thinking I may as well just throw a few crazy guesses at it before I wasted two hours of my time in a queue. And crazy guess number one was right.

“I don’t fucking believe it.”

“You see? You knew it.”

“I’m writing that down now.”

 

 

 

Rain and Snails

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Upon my arrival back in Kitwe, the garden looked fantastic with all the rain we’ve been having. The pawpaw tree sprouted three branches and was festooned with exotic blossoms and the promise of multiple fruit. My wee helichrysum seedling had shot up to a metre high and opened it’s strange hard, dry petals. Geraniums were taking over the shade garden. It was only after some thought that I wondered why my granadilla vine wasn’t showing much. Ripping away handfuls of nasturtium that had gallivanted over the wall, it was revealed that the granadilla vine had been reduced to mere twigs and the culprits were hiding beneath it all. Snails. Bitchloads of snails.

 

When I told my friend Liz I had disposed of more than twenty snails by gathering them in a bucket and salting the lot, she was dismayed. “I have a tortoise that loves to eat snails!” she informed me. So the next week I packed up a box with some more crawling critters – the supply is seemingly never-ending –  and took them over to her house. Liz duly sent me a photo on WhatsApp of her excited tortoise slowly advancing on its big crunchy snack. Which made me think, never mind betting on snail racing; there could be a new and thrilling version whereby one bets on a tortoise that one thinks will eat the greatest number of snails.

 

Of course, to drive over to feed Liz’s tortoise every time I find a few snails isn’t really practical. It would take twenty hungry tortoises to eradicate my snail plague.

“Why don’t you just use snail bait?” asked my mom and husband.

Poisoned snails poison birds. What if the pets nibble the stuff? You just never know. One website had an interesting suggestion of putting a bowl of beer out – the snails would be attracted to the beer and crawl into the bowl and drown. “You’re not wasting my beer like that,” Husband immediately replied, protective of his life support fluid.

“Dingo would probably drink it before the snails got to it anyway,” I pointed out.

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Would you like some garlic butter with that?

In the meantime I have trimmed away all the tragic brown sticks and for the first time in over three years we have a bare exposed wall. There are but a few weeks still to go of rainy season and until then, I’ll just have to feed the birds and tortoises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Day and Almost Drowning of 2016

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My search criteria for a New Year weekend getaway in South Africa consisted of “accommodation with private Jacuzzi”, and so it was that the husband and I were cosily ensconced in a chalet at Thulamela in Hazyview. Sipping pink champagne in a Jacuzzi on a private deck amid a canopy of trees was definitely a highlight, but we couldn’t spend the whole weekend doing nothing, could we?

 

Browsing the pamphlet of things to do, we crossed off zip lining – been there, done that. I reluctantly crossed off horse riding because the husband finds it “boring”. River rafting… Hmmm. Neither of us had done that. It was a choice between a two hour cruise or a half day adventure which would include flying over an eight metre waterfall. Um, no thanks. The two hour rafting trip stated no children under the age of five would be allowed. “Well, how bad can it be then?” I asked.

 

The head guide was explaining how to steer the inflatable canoes from the rear and that the person in the middle would simply be rowing in the calm waters. “It sounds complicated,” said Graeme.

“I’ve kayaked plenty before, I don’t think it will be that difficult,” said I – famous last words. My great kayak experience includes lagoons in East London and the lazy Sand River. Of course the Sabie River doesn’t look too intimidating to the casual observer either.

“Okay so you’re happy to steer.”

“Yip.”

“Okay, is there anyone who feels nervous and would prefer to have a guide in their canoe?” the head guide asked. Worried faces looked back at him and a few hands went up. In a minute all five guides were assigned to help people.

 

Not ten metres from the point where the canoes were pushed into the river, one canoe went sideways over the first step and the passenger was stuck in waist deep water; sucked into place by the current until a guide got to him and pulled him out and back to his canoe.

Graeme and I easily popped over it with no problem but only a few metres further found ourselves a bit closer to the right bank than everyone else, with the current pushing us towards a large tree.

“Go to the left! Row! Row!” the guides were all shouting at us.

We had just started out and I was still struggling to reacquaint myself with rowing. We collided gently with the tree sideways on. I was still thinking perhaps we could push against it with our oars when the current flipped the canoe over faster than a flapjack. Just like that I was in darkness, drinking river water. Trying to hold my breath. Beating futilely at the roof of the canoe. Thinking, “Oh fuck, I’m drowning. I’m going to die.” Just as quickly the canoe bounced off somehow – whether it was the current or Graeme’s efforts, we’re still not clear. Graeme had a hold on the canoe and managed to kick towards the bank and grab on. I was being swept downriver by the current – thank goodness for life-jackets –  panicked and gasping. The guide’s words rang through my head: “If you fall into the water, don’t put your feet down or they will catch in the rocks and you might break a leg.” I now realized that what he really meant was, ‘If your feet get stuck in a crevice, the current will push you flat over and you’ll friggin’ drown.”

“Grab on!” a guide shouted, indicating for me to grab the ropes of his canoe as I approached. I managed to haul myself in and collapsed, feet hanging out over the edge. “Grab your oar!” It was drifting by in my wake and we managed to grasp it. “Are you okay?”

I was shell-shocked, honestly. I nodded. “I’m fine.”

Where was Graeme? Was I going to be a third party with my butt soaked in the pool at the bottom of the canoe and my feet hanging over the edge like crocodile bait for how many more kilometres? And then he appeared, rowing furiously, water spraying up around him like an action hero as he came to collect me. I wriggled over into the canoe with him, this time taking the middle seat. “You’re a terrible canoe driver,” he teased.

 

The rest of the trip was pretty tame – spotting a snake, a baby crocodile and getting stuck on rocks in rapids twice. Graeme’s worst injury of the day was slipping on wet rocks when he retrieved an empty water bottle that another tourist had thoughtlessly tossed towards the river, when we were having our water and crisps break near the end. Which was also when I discovered my sunglasses lodged underneath my helmet – no wonder I’d been so uncomfortable since my Sabie River swim!

“Would you do this sort of thing again?” I asked.

“Yes it was quite fun. And at least you made it adventurous by capsizing us. Would you?”

“Not on your life. I’m finished with rafting.”

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This crap is for the fish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hubby’s Hosepipe Birthday

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It really took me a week or two to be able to laugh about it, and even more to write about… The hubby’s birthday fell on a Sunday this year and he was thrilled to see a beer festival advertised for the same day. He sent me a picture on WhatsApp simply captioned “Please?”.

“As if I’d stop you – lol! It will be nice,” I replied.

 

It might have been, had we not both had too much to drink at a friend’s twenty-fifith wedding anniversary party the previous night. In actual fact the boozing started at golf on Saturday morning so by the time we arrived at the party he was already hammered, having nearly ridden over a pedestrian or two on the way. Somewhere in between my glasses of wine and bubbly there was a domestic dispute that started at the buffet table and took itself off to the parking lot. So I was sitting on the grass in despair, he was ranting that we should go home. Not only would it have been a spectacle but quite frankly I didn’t want to go home with him in that mood anyway. Then he did one of his temporary storm-offs and I took the opportunity to leg it to a quiet spot and sigh at the stars for a while. I suppose because he’s such an amazing, sweet man when he’s sober, it’s just the law of the universe that he’s a total poephol when he’s smashed. After calming down and having made my back-up plan of action to catch a ride with a friend if things continued in a nasty vein, I returned to the dinner table to be greeted by a surprisingly trite husband. We went back to the buffet where he started apologizing and crying and blubbing “I just love you so much” ie. finished moer dronk. Relieved that the fight was over, I said, “Let’s just make the most of the evening.”

 

The following morning Husband was a little hung over but we had a good laugh about the previous evening and me wiping out on my butt on the dance floor. “I don’t know if we should do this beer festival thing,” he said.

“But it’s your birthday treat. This was planned even before we were invited to the anniversary party. I think we should go. “

“Okay. Well, I’ll just take it easy on the beers.” Famous last words.

 

A few beers. Good. A couple of shooters with a friend. Is that a good idea? Being called up on stage by the band because a random pisscat heard it was his birthday and decided to get him in trouble with tequila. Ah, yes. At that point I was simply documenting with my camera as a feeling of dread crawled over me. Here comes the shit. First off, the band had a hard time getting him off the stage. He kindly dragged me into things by advertising my therapy services (oh cringerama). Once we got him back to the table he was climbing underneath it and grabbing people’s feet. He used my friend’s handbag as a pillow for a while down there. Then he re-emerged and continued with bizarre behaviour. It was a miracle he found his way to the bathroom but once out he started falling asleep standing up against the wall. Thankfully his workmate packed him into the car for me – there’s no way I could have coped on my own.

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Boys behaving badly.

Once home he emerged from the car like a baby giraffe taking its first steps. He tried to open the back door with the wrong key. Once I released him out back into the wild, he lay down in the garden and effectively passed out. In retrospect, maybe I should have taken him to hospital instead for a good stomach pumping. An hour later I had done the chores for the evening and was finishing up with watering the garden and he was still lying there. What woman…Nay, what human being, could have resisted? Of course I sprinkled him like a wilted flower. It took him a few minutes to come to life but as the saying goes, “and that’s when the fight started”. It could have been a whopper but I said as little as possible. Eventually he was yelling at me, demanding to know how long it would take me to pack my stuff and leave. It’s such a mindfuck really, how people can get drunk and say the craziest, most hurtful shit and then not have to be accountable for it, because after all, they were drunk.

Get me pissed, and I won’t say anything that I wouldn’t say sober. I thought about the implications of this and then looked at him levelly. “Do you want me to go?” Thinking it would be the most difficult thing but I would. Because if you’re not wanted, or if you don’t want to stick around, you’d better go.

“No.” Then there were more tears and roll repeat on the previous night. What a draining bloody weekend!

 

Pisscat Woman was upset that I drew horns on her photo on facebook and tried to friend me. I was like WTF? 1. Have a sense of humour, and it’s the least I owe you for landing my man that tray of tequila shots. 2. I don’t know you. You’re not my type. Go friend a tequila drinker. Start a tequila group on facebook. Whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billy Blanks Tae No

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Okay, so this is not a strictly Zambian problem – it’s available anywhere in the world to purchase either in store or online, and you will wish you had never bought it. I speak of a particular Billy Blanks DVD titled This is Tae Bo.

 

Casting your mind back to the nineties, you might remember there was a three DVD box set of Billy Blanks Tae Bo which was actually pretty good. So having bounced along to Jillian Michaels DVDs for the last year and a half, I fancied a change of instructor to throw in here and there and found This is Tae Bo at Mr Price Sports. I don’t mind that it’s just one long workout for almost an hour (and let’s face it – most mornings you don’t feel like hopping around your living room sweating for a whole hour). I don’t mind the insane tempo of some of the moves that could cause injury if one did this workout frequently.

 

But here’s what does bother me about this DVD:

  1. The first thing that made me go “WTF?!” is that Billy’s sweating crew count out loud from one to eight, FOR THE ENTIRE WORKOUT. If that doesn’t make you feel mental, I don’t know what will. You’ll never forget how to count to eight again, that’s for sure.
  2. There’s one of them in every flippin’ aerobics class. You know who I’m talking about – that nutso chick in the leotard who’s probably wearing cling wrap underneath it to maximize sweating and inch loss who shouts, “Whoop!” and “Yeah!” and “Woohoo!” at intervals just to piss off the rest of the class with her manic enthusiasm. Why did Billy Blanks have to include one such woman on a workout DVD that’s already goddamn irritating? “Yes, sir!” “Whoop!” “Yeah!” Maybe I need to try this thing on mute with iTunes playing instead.
  3. The cool down “meditation” bit at the end. I don’t consider standing in a sumo squat position to be remotely relaxing, especially not for five minutes or more, and what should be a little “well done, you!” pep talk a la Jillian is just advertising chat. This is the real Tae Bo, don’t you be going out and buying no cheap-ass imitations, cos that doesn’t work. It isn’t my tae bo. Only Billy Blanks is the real tae bo, bitches. Only my tae bo is gonna burn your ass fat off, only my tae bo is inspired by martial arts cos I’m the only dude like me in the world. Blah blah blah… That is not verbatim, but that’s the message.

 

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One slamming kick to your motivation and sanity! This is tae no!

My message is this DVD sucks. In the four months since I bought it I’ve only put myself through it three times. I’m beginning to think shops that sell these things should allow you to watch a bit, kind of like listening to CDs at CD Warehouse. In the meantime I’ve ordered Ashley Borden’s Six Weeks to Sculpted online based on reviews. Fingers crossed!

Election Anticlimax

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Exactly two weeks ago the results of the election were announced with Lungu as the winner. As expected there were parades, people rolling in ecstasies in the road roundabout gardens, much shouting, a few rocked cars and suchlike celebrations in the copperbelt area. The news was much less well-received in Lusaka and the following day it was international news that the results had been rigged. The last two weeks have been quiet but time is up for the UPND’s petition. In the meantime we all wait with bated breath for the (so far postponed) inauguration. There are those who feel that regardless of who is inaugurated, life in Zambia will continue pretty much the same; but debate is so heated, I think this is not the case. The candidates are two very different people and it’s undeniable that whoever sits in the presidential chair is ruler, not of the world, but certainly of a country. The power-hungry kind of party that would rig an election is certainly a dangerous one. As usual, only time will tell what the outcome is.

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Peter would get my vote if I could vote – Kitwe needs a serious clean up!

Countdown to Elections

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As if the usual annual Shitwe dust-fest that reigns from June until the rain arrives (more commonly in December rather than October in recent years) isn’t bad enough, together with smoke as Zambians merrily delight in burning anything dry enough to burn, we now have the apocalyptic Election Countdown hanging over our heads. Business is barely ticking over. Housewives deliberate whether a trip to the shops is a good idea or not – those who haven’t already flown out of the country for the month.

 

Of course the tyre-burning, shrieking parades will only commence in earnest after the election results are revealed, but there have been incidents of ladies having rocks flung at their cars. One motorist was pulled over by police as electoral candidate H.H. was passing by with his entourage. Passersby started rocking the guy’s car to and fro. Luckily H.H. took note and ordered them to let him go.

 

Wishing to avoid such a scenario, my plans for the next two weeks revolve around binge-watching television, reading, a few jigsaw puzzles and pottering about in the garden. Fingers crossed things will be back to normal soon!

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