Sending him on his way.

It was the second day on board the cruise ship and Andrea was feeling more relaxed than she had felt in years as she leaned against the railing of the ship’s deck, gazing out at the horizon.  The constant strain of juggling home and office as well as the stress of her recent break up with her long-time boyfriend had taken its toll. She had been suffering from insomnia for weeks and her boss had noticed that she was constantly tired and irritable and suggested that it was time for her to think about using up some of her accumulated leave. She had been so diligent regarding her deadlines at work that she had hardly ever bothered to take any leave. It was only over weekends or when there was a public holiday that she was away from the office.

So far the week long cruise was proving to be exactly what she needed. Her cabin had its own balcony and she loved watching the flying fish and the occasional school of dolphins cavorting in the waves – she could forget about work for the first time in years, and even the hurt caused by the recent break up was surprisingly not bothering her much. The food and entertainment on board was first class and although she wasn’t really interested in spending much time with the other passengers, the ones she met at mealtimes were pleasant enough and not wanting to intrude on her privacy. She tended to be reserved by nature and found it rather difficult to make new friends. The few good friends she had were people she trusted and had known for many years and, due to her busy work schedule, she saw less of them than she really should, but maybe things could change once she got back home.

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Out of the corner of her eye Andrea noticed a middle aged woman with short greying hair who seemed to be talking to herself whilst trying to remove the lid of a square wooden box. Curiosity got the better of the normally reticent Andrea, and she walked over to the woman and introduced herself and offered to help her open the box. “It’s really stiff and probably due to the length of time that it’s been in my cupboard at home. Oh, by the way, I’m Linda, and thank you – maybe you can get the lid off!” With that Andrea tried to twist off the lid, and finally was successful. What she saw made her recoil in shock – the box contained ashes!

“I can see you’re a bit taken aback, Andrea, but before I throw these into the sea, let me explain”, said Linda. “It has been months now since I fetched the box and a lot of planning has gone into my taking this trip in order to do what is necessary and to say my final goodbyes. So many memories and feelings have been plaguing me and it has been a very hard decision to spend my meagre savings on this cruise, but I think once I have done what has to be done, then I can get on with my life”.

“I imagine that it is going to be a very emotional goodbye for you, and I hope that I am not intruding at such a difficult time, Linda?!

“Oh no, not at all. In fact I am just so glad that you came over to talk to me as I feel the need to unburden myself before I send him on his final journey. The past 12 years have been a total nightmare living with this aggressive, badly behaved individual who ruled my life completely. Being a positive person by nature, I always believed that thing would get better, but they just did not. My friends stopped coming to visit as they never knew what kind of a mood he would be in and often left in a hurry when they heard his snarling voice. They just could not understand why I tolerated it and eventually lost patience with me.”

“It sounds as though you have really had a lot on your plate and it reminds me of the past few years of living with my ex-boyfriend who was also very controlling and often bad tempered. There must have been some good times though?

On his way 2 350x211“Very few, sad to say. In the beginning he was so very affectionate and people admired his good looks and I got the feeling that many of them actually envied me having found such a great companion at the stage of life where many of my friends were on their own and feeling rather neglected. The trouble was that I started to loathe him for cramping my style and being so very demanding. I often felt that I was being totally manipulated and that my time was no longer my own. He was very faddy when it came to his likes and dislikes regarding his meals and I spent hours trying to find things that he would enjoy. Sometimes he actually seemed to appreciate all my efforts but I usually felt frustrated by the fact that keeping him happy was using so much of my time and energy. My decision to let him into my life had not been made in a hurry, but I must admit that there were days of serious misgivings and regret although I really did try to give him lots of love and attention.”

“It sounds as though you probably made a big mistake right in the beginning, Linda? Was it his good looks that attracted you?”

“That and the fact that I believed that we would have lots of fun together, but he turned out to be very ill tempered most of the time. It must have been due to his upbringing and his parentage but these were factors which only became relevant as time went on. I must say that I was actually relieved that, as he got older, he did tend to mellow somewhat and he aged very rapidly over the past few years.”

“It would appear that you had rather a challenging time whilst he was alive. Perhaps one day you will find a companion with whom you really do have great times together. You just never know what lies ahead do you?”

“I won’t be in a hurry to look for a replacement after this experience and the worst thing, Andrea, is that I feel that he sometimes really spoilt 12 of the best years of my life and it sounds very cruel, but I am relieved to be saying a final goodbye to him today. The reason I decided on this cruise in order to scatter his ashes is that he loved the sea and although I really don’t like swimming in cold water, I was forced to go down to the beach with him several times a week so he could race through the waves like a maniac whilst I waited on the sand for him to exhaust himself. Despite his extremely difficult nature, I felt a certain amount of guilt regarding my frequent resentment towards him so this is mainly to appease that guilt.”  With that comment, Linda leaned slightly over the railing and threw the content of the box into the sea. The slight breeze caught them as they floated down and it seemed to take quite a while before they disappeared into the waves.On his way 1 350x233“ Goodbye Rover, and thanks for the memories!”

“Rover? Was that your husband’s name, Linda?”

Linda burst out laughing, “I have never been married, Andrea. Rover was a Rottweiler that I decided to adopt, against my better judgement, when a good friend of mine went to China to teach English and had no idea of what to do with Rover who was still a puppy back then. Big mistake, but that is history now and I feel very relieved and maybe my friends will start visiting me again once this cruise is over! No more bad tempered male interference to worry about. Now time for a nice glass of cold champers in honour of a strong willed companion. Want to join me Andrea?”Onhis way 3 350x350.jpg

 

Update and Comments: 14 May 2019

I have recently posted the second chapter relating to Direct Selling in which I tried to give some idea as to how to choose a company which suits you best.  I intend to follow this with the next chapter very shortly and I do hope that the information which I am sharing is of use to anyone looking at going into this kind of business venture. On a different note, I have posted some great new recipes from Chris in the cookery section of the Guest Contributor portion of the blog – am sure the Foodies among you will be interested to try them out.

April seemed to disappear in a blur of public holidays here in South Africa and then it was a case of waiting for the Big Day, 8 May 2019 which heralded the 6th free and democratic countrywide national election. Well, in most instances and, despite all the negative postings on social media forecasting doom and devastation, most polling stations appeared to be run relatively successfully. All the people involved at my local polling station were very helpful and efficient and hopefully we will not be overly distraught once the election results have been verified and announced. My own experience was hundreds of times more pleasant than the 7 hour wait to renew my driver’s licence last month! (That little episode will feature in a future post once I have actually got my renewal in my sticky little hand. Cannot afford to send out any negative vibes in that direction until the deed is completed and I am once again legally entitled to drive for another 5 years!)

Something which occurred on the same day as our election, was the first sight of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new-born baby boy. I thought at first that they were just carrying a doll wrapped in a blanket wearing a woollen hat as the baby’s face was hidden from view. However, there were several photos published later which happily proved me wrong! The poor little chap may become the cutest baby around, but that name!! Archie!! Born into a royal family and called Archie! Queen Victoria must be turning in her grave!!  However, new facts have come to light since then which makes a bit more sense regarding the name. Apparently, the late Princess Diana had a distant ancestor who was called Archibald Campbell and he was the 9th Earl of Argyle. I think Diana’s maiden name of Spencer may have been an easier option for the poor chap to live with – especially if he lands up being a red-headed Archie!!

I suppose, in case there were any doubt at all as to the father of the child (just tongue in cheek – not aiming to offend any devout Royalists!), having the middle name of Harrison (as in Harry’s son) puts paid to any speculation in that region! Life is definitely interesting and always full of twists and turns, especially when an American actress marries a British prince! Here’s hoping this story, unlike some others of recent years, defies all odds and has a happy ending.

On the home front our dear Kelly, who is now almost 7 months old, is something of a canine Jekyll and Hyde! She is very clever (when the mood takes her) but unlike most dogs, is not particularly fond of food. She far prefers to chew branches of bushes, feathers from pigeons as well as having a passion for pebbles (of which there are hundreds on paths in our garden!). Needless to say, many valuable hours are spent in attempting to educate the dear pup that we really would prefer to control a potential obesity problem rather than having to face the prospect of foreign bodies finding their way into her digestive system and necessitating a rushed journey to our local vet! Who said: ”this too shall pass”?

Just a brief postscript regarding the e-mail contact for my blog. Despite following the instructions given by WordPress, there seemed to be a technical glitch. This has been rectified and tested and should be working well now, so please do feel free to contact me as per the contact details available on the blog.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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Easter and the Bunny

Easter is a very important part of the Christian calendar whereby the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is commemorated.  However, regardless of the religious connection, children the world over have learnt to associate Easter with that much loved chap, the Easter Bunny. He is often used, nowadays much like Santa Claus, as a blackmailing tool by parents to ensure that their offspring behave well in the days leading up to Easter in order to receive delicious chocolate eggs.

Much can be researched regarding the origin of the Easter Bunny and why he brings eggs as well as the significance of eggs at this time of year. For, after all, bunnies don’t lay eggs! It all has to do with eggs and rabbits being symbols of fertility, dating back to pagan times, although there is a connection with German Lutherans who believed in the ”Osterhase” or Easter hare. When these German Lutheran immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania, USA, in the 1700’s they took this tradition with them. Apparently, the Easter Hare was originally depicted as a kind of judge of children’s good or bad behaviour.  Only the well behaved children would receive Easter eggs. The tradition of the rabbit bringing eggs was then passed on to future generations and still prevails.

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It must be rather confusing for children to make sense of a bunny bringing eggs, but all things considered, the end result isn’t confusing at all! However, I have heard of several occasions where the bunny decided to hide the eggs all around the garden, and in the morning all that was left was shreds of shiny foil wrappers. The family dog had woken up after the bunny had fled in fright no doubt, and devoured the entire hoard of chocolate delights long before the children had woken up.  Apart from heartbroken children, it is to be hoped that the dogs in question survived the feast with no ill effects!

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Anyway, as we approach the Easter weekend (except for the Orthodox Greeks who celebrate Easter later than other churches) it is to be hoped that the bunny is up to the momentous task of delivering all those eggs and that the family dogs are kept safely out of his path.

May I take this opportunity of wishing those of you who are taking a break from your usual routine to enjoy this time with your families and to stay safe wherever you may be, especially if you are travelling. A very happy Easter to you all.

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Update and Comments: 14 April 2019

I loathe making excuses for not having done what I intended to do, but the past few weeks have been extremely challenging to say the least!

Just to start with the challenges, suffice to say that I had never dreamt that having a German Shepherd (highly pedigreed, may I add!) puppy, who is technically an only child, could take such gigantic chunks out of my always hectic day! It is 13 years since we last had a pup, and then there was an adult dog in the home who was there to shoulder the stresses and strains of nipping bad behaviour in the bud as well as providing playmate time. Now, muggins (aka myself) has been nominated playmate of the year (no bunny ears and skimpy outfit involved, by the way!).

It is taking up so much of my time, but what can one do when there is a constant bumping against one’s legs and the toy in the aforesaid pup’s mouth is there for playing throw and fetch or tug-a-war!  To look at her you would imagine she is full size, but actually will possibly almost double in the next year but already her bossy attitude is fully developed!  Then there are the Saturday morning training sessions – but the less said about them and the stress that dear Kelly causes, is best left alone right now!

We have had some incredibly harsh rain storms in the past week and, waiting for an insurance claim to be finalised, the roof still leaks. Buckets and towels up in the roof as well as strategically placed in the lounge all add to loss of working time! However, with a reputable handy man involved, all should be sorted out in the next week or so!

I am planning on giving a rundown on the day spent waiting on a wooden bench along with dozens of fellow countrymen and women waiting to renew my driver’s licence, but that is a story in itself. However, it compounded my situation of recently wasted time.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and as my update is so overdue, I am glad to have received the following heart-warming piece of information in time for me to include it today. I have mentioned that my husband and I owned and ran an Irish themed pub and restaurant several years ago and I was responsible for, among other things, hiring and training our staff of waiters. After several months of operation, we realised that our Black male staff were often the most reliable and dedicated, provided that they had the right attitude towards their job.  Due to certain criminal elements outside our control (namely a corrupt landlord as well as a crooked lawyer) we only ran the business for 5 years (during which time we had an excellent reputation for all round great quality. More to come in future regarding our experiences during those years.

To continue, yesterday our eldest son was staying at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, one of the top hotels in the country, when a waiter approached him to ask if he was our son. He then said that it was due to the training which I had given him all those years ago which had enabled him to be working where he is today. Apparently he is very happy at his current place of work, and he said that he tells everyone that it was due to my emphasis on customer care, cleanliness in all areas of the job as well as the way he was always treated that has been the reason for him having improved his status over the years. I cannot tell you what a fantastic gift this has proved to be at a time when positive recognition can be a rare commodity.

This isn’t the first time that something like this has happened, as another of our very young waiter’s was spotted by a customer due to the quality of his service, and offered an office job. When he asked us whether he should take up the offer, we wholeheartedly encouraged him to do so, even though it meant us losing a valuable member of our staff. Imagine my delight when he connected with me via Facebook and also thanked us for our support all those years ago. He is now in a very senior position in a large government organisation and has children of his own. Feedback such as these make all the hard work and struggles one has to go through worthwhile when others absorb the knowledge which you are prepared to share, in order to help them grow. Information and experience is worth nothing at all if not shared.

Here’s facing another rather hectic week with Easter holidays in sight, so another post should be in the pipeline very soon! I am busy formulating training modules regarding direct selling, and later on there will be posts relating to the running of a popular restaurant. So in the meantime. Please continue to enjoy your ride on the Magic Roundabout.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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Just Another Day

When I woke up this morning, I could hear the rain was still coming down and it seemed to be dark outside so I shut my eyes and went back to sleep. Not for long though, as one of the people with whom I share my home decided it was time for me to get up, have breakfast and go out for an energetic run. Honestly, no peace at all for the wicked in this neck of the woods.

The constant rain of the past few days has really made me very anxious, and my behaviour has left a great deal to be desired. I find that I want to eat anything and everything I can get hold of, and this must be to do with being inside more than I would really choose to be. Still, I heard someone say that on Sunday the sun will start to shine again, so I will be able to carry on with my usual outdoor activities.

My housemates seem to have a total obsession with toilet habits. They worry about the number of times I have to relieve myself, and I hear them discussing this all the time. Can’t be normal, but I am starting to think that I am the only really normal soul in this house.  What is that saying about not being able to choose one’s family as they are foisted on you, but you can choose your friends? I don’t have any close friends at the moment, but I do interact with a bunch of like-minded individuals on a weekly basis, but this is coming to an end next week, sad to say. After that I have no idea of how my social life will continue.

I love sleeping – this could be a sign of depression perhaps? I think that it has more to do with the amount of food which I consume. I eat, do the necessary toilet things if needed, have a bit of a run, and then it’s time for another nap. I have a very high IQ and hope that I don’t sound too big headed by mentioning this. My mother was quite old when she had me, although my dad is a lot younger than her and is known as a real stud. Mum didn’t have too much patience with me right from the start and, as an only child, I suppose I have been rather spoilt by good friends of my mum. Anyway they do say that the brighter the child, often the more challenging they can be.

I looked in the mirror the other day and got quite a shock to see how my appearance is changing. My hair seems to be getting coarser and no longer as dark as when I was younger. My teeth bother me a lot and I just hope that this problem is temporary as I have the desire to chew things all day long – I don’t think this is acceptable judging by the reaction it gets from those around me. I also get so excited at times (an adrenalin rush perhaps) that I have been known to jump up and down like a deranged individual and it cannot even be blamed on a sugar overload.  I really must try to control myself or I might just end up in an institution.

I have excellent eyesight and my hearing is tops but it is my sense of smell that causes me the most concern. I can identify scents from months ago in my home and outside too and this seems to irritate people an awful lot. They just don’t appreciate how finely tuned my nose seems to be.  What would appear to be a great benefit to me is not perceived as such by anyone else. A pity when one’s talents go unnoticed or unrewarded, but that’s life isn’t it?

Although it has been pretty chilly these past few days, there have been several times when I have hovered on the edge of the swimming pool contemplating jumping in for a dip. The trouble is that, although I plan on improving my swimming skills next summer, right now I need to stay on the top step as my legs aren’t long enough to get out of the water without a helping hand – so embarrassing having to accept that kind of assistance as I am very independent by nature. I am capable of giving a great deal of affection, but I do have a tendency to often break the rules and give people a bit of a run for their money in their dealings with me. I do try to please people but it can be a lot of fun to see the frustration when I refuse to toe the line.

I can hear those wretched birds chirping outside my window, and if I weren’t so sleepy I would get out there and chase them all away. They have no respect for my garden and I just cannot understand why one of my housemates insists on feeding them all the time. I feel a bit jealous sometimes of the attention they get as I like to be top dog around here.

You probably realise now that, although my name is Kelly and I really am the most beautiful creature with an amazing intelligence, I am just a 4 month old German Shepherd puppy with a rather bad attitude much of the time!

Update and Comment January-10-2019

Memory has to be one of the strangest of cognitive functions. You only have to talk to any woman who has more than one child and she is bound to tell you that she totally forgot the hard work of giving birth until she went through it for the second time. It is probably nature’s way of preserving the human race.

Now, in a somewhat different vein, I need to tell you all about our current situation. It is almost 13 years since we last shared our home with a puppy and the memories are flooding back at an alarming rate.  Having been given the very kind and thoughtful gift of a new canine addition by our offspring at Christmas, we took delivery of Kelly just in time for the New Year.  She is a beautiful, very well bred German Shepherd pup who came from the same respected breeder as our late Rudie.

Kelly was the only one in her litter and, consequently, she has been “humanised” by the breeder and her family, since she had no siblings with whom to play.  She has settled very well in our home and is delightful and cuddly if she is tired enough to lie down and relax or sleep. When awake she is a ball of energy (with sharp baby teeth that are quite lethal) exploring every nook and cranny to find things to chew or drag around and loves to race around the garden resembling a battery operated rabbit. No amount of doggy toys is enough to keep her occupied all the time. One thing for sure, 2019 is going to keep me on my toes, and the puppy socialisation and basic training courses are a necessity. I need advice on how to break a few bad habits such as “answering back” when chastised!

Having a dog which is potentially going to be very protective, it is essential that she has proper training as well as a good dog food whilst she is growing – a strain on the budget, but a necessity! She is on a Royal Canin puppy food now and will start her puppy socialisation classes in the near future.   I will post some photos of our new addition soon – probably while she is having one of her naps!

Enough dog talk and I hope I haven’t bored you to death. On a more intellectual note, you will see that the section labelled “artists” has begun with the showcasing of a very talented South African artist, Craig Banks. The plan is, every couple of weeks, to try to feature other people whose artistic works may be of interest to many of you. Only time will tell how well this section is received.

Below is just one of Craig’s works which are shown in the Artists’ Section of Guest Contributors.

morgan freeman

R.I.P. our Loyal Friend

Just a few days ago we had the heart breaking decision to make to take our beloved 13 year old German Shepherd, Rudie, to our compassionate and trustworthy vet, for the last time. To take oneself out of the equation in order to do the right thing is never easy. The devotion and loyalty that Rudie has given us throughout his entire life meant that it would not have been fair to prolong his pain. He suffered from hip dysplasia which only came about a few years ago. Being on good medication which helped alleviate his discomfort meant that he was able to live an active and happy life until recently. However, he stopped wanting to eat and slept most of the time. I did give him some bacon that last morning which he devoured with relish- making me think of death row prisoners and their final meal.

Rudie came from a highly recommended breeder and his lineage was excellent. His mother had been trained and used to sniff out explosives in war regions and his father was chosen for his temperament and intelligence. We brought home the most gorgeous, fluffy 8 week old long haired pup who grew up into an amazing family dog. He was always wary of strangers – typical of this breed – and was protective to the very end.  I do believe that if one is going to give a home to a potentially vicious breed of dog then it is critical to know as much as possible about the parents as well as the history of the pup.  Even a young puppy who has been roughly treated from birth could potentially become a difficult dog to train and early training is so very important.

We miss him every minute of the day, but have some wonderful memories – not least of which is trying to get him to stop helping to water the garden. He constantly made holes in the hosepipe so the only solution was to give him a rubber chew toy to stop the destruction!

One day we will start the process once again of bringing home a fluffy baby, endure the puppy socialisation classes and give the new addition as much love as we gave to dear old Rudie.

RIP our trusted loyal boy. You will never be forgotten.