Bird Watching. – 2021 May No. 2

I know many people who seem to have an insatiable desire to constantly be on the move. Spending any free time in their own homes seems to be alien to them, and they probably miss out on so many simple pleasures which are often right there in front of them, just waiting to be spotted. This ramble is most certainly not a case of sour grapes, but rather gratitude for those little things in life which, when the odds seem to be against us, and life feels bleak, can be so heart-warming and a total delight.

Just the other day, my better half (I’d better describe him as such, instead of just “other half” as I need him as my designated editor!) called me to come into his office, which is situated on the other side of the house to my own office. We are fortunate to have indigenous trees in both areas of our garden, which attract a reasonable variety of bird life and both areas have bird feeders and baths. Anyway, on that particular occasion we were witness to a mass gathering of sparrows having a swimming party in the bird bath. There must have been at least 15 of them splashing around and having a whale of a time. It was a delight to observe and, only because any movement on our part would have disrupted the party, we did not photograph or, better still, video the episode. A pity, as it might be a once in a lifetime event, but still something which will be stored away as a beautiful memory.

Some of you are probably thinking, is that all she is going to say today? No, but even the common little sparrow deserves to be treasured for the pleasure it can bring. On a slightly more sophisticated level, we have the occasional grey lourie popping by to see if there are any pieces of fruit waiting for them to enjoy, as well as a pair of crested barbets who also like the fruit. These beautiful, colourful little characters apparently have a penchant for Hungarian peppers! Good to finally find out who it is who takes bites out of the ripening vegetables. They had a very cocky attitude when caught in the act yesterday and were not in the least bit embarrassed! Just strutted away and then flew up into the trees. Gorgeous little birds who have to be forgiven, as they obviously have excellent taste in their choice of fresh produce.

Lastly, my favourite garden guest has to be the Hadeda Ibis and it is such a pleasure to watch them, after rain, pushing their long, thin beaks into the soft grass to find the delicacies deep down in the soil.  I must admit to calling back to them when a group, sitting on the roof of the house, screech out their familiar ha-ha-ha-dah-da. It’s very funny to actually see them listening when I pretend to be one of them, and to have them shout out in reply. Oh well, as some of you may have come to realise if you have read any of my previous postings, that in my case little things definitely do please little minds! I just love watching the avian carryings on from the window of my office, whilst I work!

A Secret Admirer

Working on the 9th floor of a very modern, 12 storey office block in the centre of the city, it’s not unusual to know very few of the people who actually work in the same building. I have been a PA for one of the directors of my marketing company for the past 5 years. I am single (by choice, mind you!), live alone with a cat for company, am an avid crime story reader, gym 3 times a week and love to travel. Nothing unusual about that I would say!

Anyway at the beginning of this year a strange event occurred which, at the time, was puzzling although not altogether unpleasant. It began when I arrived at work, went into the kitchen to make my morning cup of coffee and, when I took it back to my desk I found a delicious looking chocolate cupcake on a paper plate in front of my computer. I had absolutely no idea where it had come from or who had put it there. I always get into work earlier than most of my colleagues, and that day there was only a junior clerk, Janine, as well as Portia who worked for the MD (and her office was right at the end of the corridor from my office) already at their desks. Janine was shy and spent any free moment checking her messages on her mobile phone, and had never spoken more than the odd word with me since she had started at the company 6 months previously.

Anyway, I asked both Janine and Portia whether they had given me the cupcake and neither of them had, and also denied seeing anyone else on our floor, while I was making my coffee. Well, the cupcake looked very enticing and I couldn’t resist eating it immediately. It was as moist and delicious as it looked and somehow it made me feel happy and relaxed about the day ahead. I was incredibly busy and totally forgot about the cake once I was immersed in the day to day correspondence, booking hotels and flights for my boss for his forthcoming trip to Argentina as well as trying to sort out a problem with our internet provider. I normally am a typical A type personality and get very up tight if things are overly stressful, but this day I felt very relaxed. A nice change, I must admit.

The following day, having quite forgotten about my freebie of the previous day, I was once again surprised when I brought my coffee cup back to my desk. This time it was a choc chip cookie that was left in front of my computer. I really was sure that it must have been placed by either Portia or Janine, as I hadn’t seen any other staff members when I came down the passage from the lift. They denied knowing anything about the cookie and, somewhat perplexed, I still decided that the best thing to do (as I had missed breakfast once again) was to eat it. Whoever was baking these sweet delights was doing a very good job of it. The chocolate chips just melted in my mouth and also resulted in a feeling of total relaxation!

This strange ritual carried on for at least another 2 months with an amazing variety of cupcakes,  muffins and biscuits of varying shapes and sizes appearing on my desk each morning.  Although I kept on mentioning it to all my colleagues, everyone denied any knowledge of the cookies  although several of them mentioned the fact that I definitely seemed to be very much more relaxed these days than in the past . Did I have a new man in my life? Certainly not, but I did admit to feeling more in control of my emotions than I had done for quite a while.

One morning, about 8 or 9 weeks since the first cookie had appeared on my desk, I arrived at work to find a small package wrapped in brown paper together with a typed note attached – no cookie today. I was rather hesitant to read the note as now I would surely have some idea as to the person who had been leaving the treats for me over the past few months.  Before I read it, I ripped off the wrapping on the parcel and found a thin, paperback book entitled “The joys of marijuana – 30 tried and tested baking treats”. I nearly collapsed, and then looked at the note which had been attached to the parcel. “You have been an absolute pleasure to work with these past few months – glad you liked the cookies” and it was signed “Your secret admirer!”  To this day I have never been able to find out who was responsible for me being as high as a kite every day at work for all those months. I have never bothered to try out any of the recipes and, for better or worse, have decided that to take a few drops of Rescue homeopathic medication daily is possibly a more acceptable way of coping with work related stress.

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The amazing benefits of a Reflexology treatment

For many people the sheer idea of someone handling their feet makes them shrink in horror. It may be something which sounds totally alien and a little too personal to contemplate with any degree of seriousness. However, for those who have discovered the wonders of having a qualified reflexologist giving them a treatment, it is a totally different story.

A foot rub does not constitute a reflexology treatment. This needs to be said, as a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Only when one has studied reflexology does the realisation kick in that our state of health as well as our personality is reflected in the soles of our feet and there is a specific way of giving a treatment. So yes, let your partner rub your feet if you are stressed, but if you really want a therapeutic treatment, then make sure this is done by a qualified practitioner and not a charlatan.

A reflexologist is not qualified to diagnose illness but they can advise a patient to seek medical advice if they suspect a potential problem. By looking at the condition of the feet, the colour as well as the texture, much information can be gleaned about the person to whom they belong. The toenails and the shape of the toes also hold their own information about the patient but the best measure of all, is for the practitioner to take a full medical history before doing a session for the first time.

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering
and a work of art,” – Leonardo da Vinci

Many years ago I was coerced into allowing a beauty therapist to give me several reflexology treatments at a special “stress package” price. In hindsight this really was a big mistake to make, but at that time I was ignorant as to what exactly reflexology was all about and how I would react to a treatment.  The first session just left me feeling rather tired later in the day and I found the woman giving the treatment did not make me feel relaxed at all. In fact she was rather rough and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience.  However, having paid in advance for the entire package I did go for the next treatment. This time it just happened to be in the afternoon prior to attending a business dinner at a restaurant that evening. The so-called therapist did not at any time say anything relating to the dos and don’ts of a post reflexology treatment.  It is important to know that afterwards you should drink plenty of water, limit alcohol intake and take it easy and not be over active.

That evening, on arriving at “Fat Franks”, an upmarket and very popular Johannesburg restaurant at the time, my husband and I were both given a tequila as our welcome drink.  Then it was time for the meal to be served and my choice was one of extremely rich food accompanied by wine. I remember having eaten and drunk very little when I had to go to the bathroom where I spent most of the rest of, what should have been a pleasant get together of colleagues, throwing up. It was highly embarrassing as it must have appeared that I had drunk way too much whereas that was very far from the truth. I just had no idea what it was that had caused me to be so ill.

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Years later, when I studied to become a reflexologist, I soon realised just what the problem had been. The body tries to expel toxins whilst, at the same time, attempting to achieve a state of homeostasis (balance)  when you have a reflexology treatment. Therefore, loading it with more toxins whilst the de-toxifying process is taking place is a recipe for disaster. That is why I have a total aversion to people with very limited knowledge giving others so-called foot treatments. Like anything related to the body, if you don’t know what you are doing and what damage you can possibly cause, then leave it to the experts.

The health benefits from reflexology are numerous and I have been witness to this over the years during which I have given treatments to people of all ages and levels of fitness. The amazing thing for me, after many years, is just how well one is able to pick up on personality traits as well as health issues by studying the feet of the person one is treating.  It is also beneficial for the therapist who is giving the reflexology treatment as the nerve endings which are linked to every part of the body, which one is working on in the feet, are also present in the hands. Therefore, I believe that by giving a treatment and using one’s hands, this has to have positive results for the reflexologist as well as the patient.

It has been found that where reflexologists give treatments to children, who have suffered horrific burns, there appears to be a big reduction in the pain and the trauma which accompanies having the dressings changed.  Several years ago I recall that a Cape Town hospital which has a paediatric burns ward had volunteer reflexologists who were on hand to assist when these painful procedures had to take place. This is probably still the case today and the caring attitude combined with the treatments appear to be of immense value.

You may have had massages and various other forms of alternative treatments. If you have never tried having a reflexology treatment, believe me you will most likely find it a pleasurable experience. This is provided that the person giving the treatment does not use excessive force and cause undue pain. The ideal is that enough pressure is used on every part of the feet to be of benefit without being uncomfortable and hurting you unnecessarily. Enough said. When you are looking for the right therapist,  ask around and make sure that they are qualified to give the treatment.  You will soon find out whether their style and personality suits you and allows you to fully relax and enjoy the entire experience. If you are unable to relax and feel irritated during the session then you need to find somebody else! Putting your feet in another person’s hands is a personal experience and it should be pleasurable.


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