Wednesday, December 25, 2019

On the third year of Christmas

As happens this time of the year, we have many functions and parties. On Monday I stopped in at the farm office next door, at 7.30am. I found Ronnie, my landlady and employer, in her large farm dining room. After greeting me, she said: Jo, you're just in time to help make up the staff Christmas gifts.

She buys groceries in bulk and we set out 15 piles of candles, matches, soap, rice, sugar, dried beans, soya mince, sweets and more. Then we placed each into gift bags. Ron and John and Gavin held a braai (BBQ) for the workers at 5 that evening and they each received their presents.

Of course, that morning it was only 8.15 and Ronnie said why not go home and start our holiday! I had been invited to a birthday breakfast in the Valley, which I now could attend.

At midday I drove through to Winterton to set up for our year end Weigh-Less group / Christmas party. I take my hat off tot he 13 members who weighed in that day and who professed they were determined not to throw caution to the wind over the festive season.
 Our Christmas party

Two sisters flanking me - we were wearing Christmas headgear


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The feline scribe is back

Hello to our Mum's blog readers. This is Ambrose, the only male kitty in the Hedges household. Skabby the friendly Lab is also a boy. He and I are very good friends.
Mum has been reminding me that she's back on blogger and I should write a post about the lady kitties in our family.
 As always, there's Chappie who has been in the family since my Dad Ginger and Unca Shadow were still with us
 Ambrose: the man of the family!

Mama cat, my Nemesis, is all blurry!
Mama rolling on the bed and being all blurry again!
 Missy is now two years old!
The most energetic of all the kitties
 She wanted "up"
She's the most agile of all the kitties as well!
She got "up" onto the rafters on the veranda!  
And then surveyed the garden from up there!

Luckily Skabby has been shaved. It's very hot at the moment

Mum says I must say:

Happy Tuesday to you all !

Sunday, December 15, 2019

I'm here!

Dear fellow Bloggers. I'm .here with an update on my life in the past two weeks since my last post.

As always, I'm working but it's always at what I enjoy. I manage holiday accommodation; I sell a skin care product - I have five consultants selling for me and I also have several dozen personal clients; I run four lifestyle /weight-management groups a week. Since I started Weigh-Less in October 2018, these have grown in membership from 18 to 80.  I work three mornings a week in the farm office across the lawn from my home.

Since posting about moving my furniture from Marquard to the farm in Winterton, I have arranged the furniture beautifully on the veranda. The two chairs which the farmer's son had stored in my home for two years, are on the veranda. And boy, do the cats LOVE them and the other furniture to lie on.

 Our beautiful Indonesian Teak patio suite which we used regularly on the patio in Marquard

It's up for sale at a rather high price so no serious takers yet. Meanwhile I eat breakfast here; I fold linen here; I process my make-up sales here and I also work on the laptop here during the day.

Of course, I have all my furbabies around me...

 Chappie and Missy on the old armchair
 Ambrose' favourite spot since I upturned this Provençale chair onto a higher chunky chair. This was his reaction when I told him my blog is up and running again and he'll have to hone his journalist skills for the Pets post.
 Mama is my right-paw help when I work at this table

And now... taaa-daaa…

Finally after three years, I managed to have Skabby shaved. He is not lightweight and I called in my neighbour's daughter, Jenna's help. She's a teacher at a private girls' school in Pietermaritzburg and is home on holiday. Between her, Thandiwe and Joyce (Ron's house-lady) they held his torso and nether regions. I cradled his head (he's terrified of getting into a car) and we loaded him into Jenna's parent's SUV. She and I drove to a destination about 5km where the traveling dog groomer had set up his parlour. Skabby was booked in for 10am.

When we stopped there, jumped out and I leashed him up. The groomer's Zulu assistant took Skabby and caged him. They told us to be back in an hour or more. Jenna and I had coffee at the Waffle Hut and at 11.30 we drove back to the parlour. He still wasn't ready and the groomer's assistant told me to wait in the car. If they dog saw me, they have a problem holding him still. This goes for all dogs and owners.

Finally he was ready and the groomer and two assistants loaded him into the vehicle.

What a relief for the boy. Being bred initially for Canadian weather, the poor dog has struggled in our heat with a double coat. He looks like a seal and is really so much more comfortable now.

Isn't he beautiful?


Sunday, December 1, 2019

A move and a countermove

Hello everyone. Thanks for the kind words of welcome and celebrating my regained health. 

As soon as I was able to undertake an extended road trip, I traveled up to Marquard where my furniture and household goods have been stored for the past three years. I had planned to stay for four days - in our old home which Angus and Amanda now occupy. 

With the help of my old houselady Emily, we repacked cartons and dusted off furniture in no time at all. Within the day I'd set aside for it, we had completed the task.  Rather than being a traumatic occasion, I found that finally ending our 24-year stay in Marquard, I found it brought closure rather than being an emotional ending. 

I took Emily and two carloads of furniture and items to her house in the township. Arriving there, her teenage grandson, Karebo came out to greet me and help carry the goods into their home. All-in-all a successful project completed and it was good to reconnect with my dear Emily again.

I spent every afternoon with my 91-year-old MIL, Pam who still lives in my unit in the care-assisted retirement home in Marquard. I sorted out her large-digit, loud ringing cell phone which my BIL had bought her two months ago. She had somehow activated the silent function and members of the family told me they were not able to get her.  Since Grant's death two years ago, she's not had television. The next day I visited the retail store which sells packages featuring several dozen channels and bought a suitable one for her. That night, Angus installed it for her. She insisted he set it on SABC 2 and to leave it there.  So much for the extra view channels!

Pam (MIL) and me, on my recent trip to Marquard 

On Saturday Angus and Michael (the kind friend who stored my stuff) loaded everything onto Angus' trailer and the cartons into the back of his doublecab pickup truck. Angus stored these in his garage. 

(Michael on the left, Angus on the right) 

My life in transit! 

The next weekend Angus, Amanda and children brought my furniture down to the farm and at the moment with all the cartons [fortunately] unpacked, my life is standing on my cottage veranda. 
One of the many, many pieces which adorned my home during my married life. These and many others are awaiting being sold 

The beautiful pine desk which Grant handcrafted for me way back in 2008, is under this laptop as I type. My oak sideboard, three cabinets and my trousseau kist are in my bedroom. Storing linen, several dinner services, glasses, casserole bowls, teasets and a cutlery canteen. I'll put these up for sale in due course.  

Meanwhile I continue to work at the four jobs that I do to keep going. 

This week it was the second anniversary of Grant's death. Having coffee with Estelle and Steve (artists/owners of the Art Box which I managed for two years until April this year) I said that I was relieved it's NOW and not two years ago. I feel as if I've come several thousand miles in forging ahead to succeed. And I'm thankful that I am still able to do these things. 

Last year, the first year of Grant's passing, Steve (who doesn't take commissions) did a beautiful painting in oils for me.  He said it was a pleasure and an honor to paint his old friend.
Grant Hedges 16/02/1951 - 27/11/2017

All the while the monolith peaks tower over the Valley. 

Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak taken from my family holiday home 


Sunday, November 17, 2019

There's been a reason...

... for my absence on Blogger. Once again, I haven't blogged since the first week in August but this time I have a good excuse. Meanwhile I apologize. I have missed you all and missed blogging and sincerely hope to be back now on a regular basis. 

Here's what happened:

I went to the local doctor for the normal woman's check up. I [thought] I had a small, very small issue - a lump. He referred me to a gynecologist in the city. 

This young man did a biopsy in his surgery and not realizing I'm a woman alone, sent me home. I drove home, put myself to bed and slept until the next morning. I went over to my friend next door, where I work in the farm office and told her what had happened. She was aghast and said I must never again struggle on my own like that. 

Two days later the gynae phoned me and said come back quickly; the lump he'd removed is cancerous and he needs to send me to an oncologist gynecologist. 

I was shattered.. I sat up all night with this terrible news going through my head. Next morning early, once again, I walked over to Ronnie, who was still in bed. This time I told her I wouldn't be coming into the office that day as I need to arrange an appointment with the oncologist in Durban.  Ronnie was so sorry that I'd spent the night worrying about this all alone and insisted that from then on they would help me in any way possible.  

Long story short; a very good friend from Probus asked how I was; I told him I was referred to and oncologist. He asked how I was getting there, and when I said I was driving  myself, he said, no way: he would take me. I know both him and his wife; very close friends of mine. She doesn't travel well, so she didn't accompany us. He had had prostate cancer four years ago; had treatment and with regular check ups is now doing fine. This is why he offered to take me. To support me and encourage me. 

The specialist examined me and then told me he'd have to operate. I'd be in high-care for two days, general care for two and then he'd decide when I could be discharged. The date of my surgery was set for 3rd September. He said the prognosis was good because I'd come early; I was in very good health and I was thin! 

I came home, prepared for my visit to hospital three weeks hence.  Although I had a lot to arrange and organize with the three projects I run, I tried not to think about what was going on in my body. It worked until two days before I was due to be admitted to hospital. That morning I had a melt-down after receiving a beautiful video on my Whatsapp from my dear friend, Penny (Snap That blog).  Then I shook myself mentally and said I'm in this thing; I need to work through it and get out on the other side with my mind intact. 

On Tuesday 3 September,  John and Ronnie took me down to the hospital in the city and waited while I was admitted. They then walked to my private ward with me and the admittance nurse and took their leave. Ronnie promised to keep all my friends and Weigh-Less members informed of when I went into surgery. 

The staff then examined me and asked all the relevant questions about my health. Hearing that I'm not on any type of medication (heart, cholesterol, blood pressure) they marveled that this old gogo (Zulu for grandmother) was so healthy. I was asked to get into bed wearing a surgical gown, and a drip was attached to my left arm.

I then began to wait.

And wait. 

The anesthetist arrived and prepped me about the operation and said I was scheduled to go in at 1pm.

Midday and 1pm arrived and still no-one came to fetch me for surgery. 

I waited...

And waited! 

At 5.30pm the theater staff arrived and pushed me out in my bed.  Across the 6th floor on which my ward was situated; into a lift; up to the surgical floor - I think it was the 8th floor! I was placed in a little ante-room and told I'd be fetched in a while. 

Fifteen minutes later the recovery nurse ( I asked her who she was! ) came with an assistant and pushed me across the corridor into a cavernous room which I realized was the theater. 
The anesthetist arrived and asked me to climb across onto the slab which is operating table. I looked at a wall clock behind him; it said 5.45. He took my arm and the next thing I heard was "Johanna, wake up!" 

I was back in my ward with several nurses and the sister working on me. It  was dark beyond the window and I saw the city lights twinkling below. Someone brought me dinner: a bowl of custard and a cup of chipped ice. 

Ronnie phoned me just then to ask how I was. Shortly afterwards Grant's aunt, Carole, phoned to ask after my health!

The specialist who operated on me came in and said he was very happy with the whole procedure. He had removed all the bad stuff. It was sent off to the lab for testing and I'd only hear three weeks later what the results where. However, I took the Doctor's explanation as a sign that all will be well. 

Then I slept! 

The next two days in hi-care I was inundated with flowers which weren't permitted in the ward. John, my son, who is a captain at sea off the Durban coast was the first to visit me. He came at  12 noon although visiting hours were from 2 to 4pm.  He'd come straight off the ship -perhaps he convinced the sister on duty that he really had to see his mom!  He said he, Debbie  and the family would be back the next day. 

My friend Cheryl arrived at 2pm. Half an hour later, Carole (the aunt) arrived. At 3pm a strange lady walked in and greeted me. As we chatted and she asked how my operation had gone, I racked my brain to try and think who she was. Then she said, "I haven't seen you for about 17 years. " And it struck me, she was at my mom's funeral in 2002. This was my maternal cousin, Maryanne! 

All these ladies brought me gift bags laden with energy bars, wet wipes, tetras packs of fruit juice and chocolate. 

That night Julie-Ann and Gary from the motorcycle association Grant and I rode with, arrived. Julie with a bunch of flowers and Gary with a slab of chocolates. Julie showed me the flowers and was instructed by the sister to leave them in the passage. 

The next day at 2pm my favorite sister -in - law, Shelley arrived with a gift bag of goodies. She was appalled at the flowers in buckets of water outside my ward. I asked her to take them home - which she kindly did. While she was there, Tony, another motorcycle friend, arrived. He was carrying a bunch of flowers! 

Tony left and the next minute John, Eryn and Joshua walked into the ward. Shelley was about to leave and enlisted the help of my two oldest grandchildren to help take the flowers to her car in the underground parking. 

The sister brought a wheel chair and when Eryn returned to the ward, she pushed me to the waiting room - Joshua walking along with us. John, Debbie and the four younger children were there. 

While sitting there chatting to John and Debbie, she said, apart from the fact that I was dressed in a green surgical gown, (they gave me a fresh one each morning!) and that I was in a wheelchair, I looked as healthy as anything. I said I felt healthy. I hadn't experienced any pain or discomfort from the  surgery and all my vital signs were apparently very good. 

After 45 minutes of chatting to the family, the visiting hours were up. I said goodbye and Eryn and Joshua took me back to my ward. When the children left, I lay back on my pillow and sighed. I was exhausted!  

I haven't been in a hospital since my mid-thirties and now I realized why there were rules about visitors.

Two days later, the doctor examined me and pronounced me fit enough to be discharged. He booked me off all activities, such as driving and doing manual work and exerting myself.

My SIL, Shelley fetched me and took me to their home 45minutes outside Durban city. Once again there, John and the children visited me. 

The next day, other Probus friends of mine, Stella and Rob had arranged with Shelley to meet them at a shopping center and they brought me home to the farm. 

Immediately we arrived, Ronnie arrived from next door to greet us. Stella and Rob left while Ronnie stayed on and chatted. As she left, Steve and Estelle (whose art shop I'd managed for two years) arrived with a takeaway meal. They sat for a few minutes and chatted. 

After they'd left, I got into bed, and slept. Being of a vintage age and undergoing surgery major surgery, was tiring! 

It's now two months plus and I've been given a clean bill of health from the oncologist. 

It was a frightening thing at first but apparently I had sought medical attention in time. 

Praise God. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

An update...

... and not another post about my furbabies! 

Hello dear blogger friends. I am still around and doing well. Although I am busy with several projects, my life is way more relaxed than it was three months ago. I've left the shop and work three mornings only, on the farm where I live. No more daily treks to and from the center. Instead I walk across the lawn from my little cottage to the farm office. No more car expenses. I had two major breakdowns  and subsequent repairs to my 12 year-old (and tired 250,000km) little  Opel. 
My 2007 Opel Meriva 

Ironically a fortnight after leaving the shop, I managed to purchase - all on my own - another little car. My friend Caroline, used the phrase: a new-to-Jo car.  
Bongani hands me the keys to my new car - under the red cover 
My 2016 Datsun GO
 with minimal kilometers on the clock 
One very pleased vintage lady with upgraded transport 

Apart from my job at the farm, I have built up my Weigh-Less groups' memberships. So much so that I even have two people in my employ : group assistants. 
Sharyn de Jongh appointed GA in Champagne Valley Group 

Jill Atkinson before joining Weigh-Less 
Jill Atkinson after three months on Weigh-Less. She lost 8kg  and is now my GA in Winterton. 
Essie Seymour lost 17.6kg in seven months

This week Jill and Essie will feature on two of my Weigh-Less posters respectively. The one Essie will grace, is to promote a special offer in my Winterton and Champagne Valley groups. Jill will appear on a poster as a guest speaker at an open meeting which I'm holding to form a group in nearby Estcourt.
Ina Olivier has lost 22kg in nine months. She is almost on her goal weight
Kerry Raven has lost 33kg since October 2018. 
Kholeka Nkosi has lost 13.4kg since February this year! 
Marina Olivier (Ina's daughter) has lost 43kg in nine months. She's the youngest member in our Valley group and loved by all! 
My DIL Amanda is also in my group. My son, Angus was my first goal weight member in 2000. Here he holds a magazine article in which he and I featured way back in 2002. He is also on the Weigh-Less plan in support of his wife. I find that sweet. 

In between I continue to manage holiday accommodation. Now that I am home, I'm able to take Thandiwe up to The Bunker. She cleans the floor and bathrooms and sweeps the patio. I change the linen and set out toiletries and coffee, tea and sugar for the next guests. 

All in a day's work! 

Have a wonderful Monday. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Cats, a dog and a cow and calf!

Hi everyone. My house is draped all over with furbabies. On my Weigh-Less bags, on the garbage bin and wrapped around the bar heater. It's cold at the moment and everyone cuddles up as much as possible.

 Missy asleep on my Weigh-Stock bag and boards 
 Ambrose spends most of his day outside - at the dairy and under the garden shrub 
 Skabby hogging the heater while Chappies tail is the only part of her visible 
 Mama curls up on the blanket on my bed. The electric blanket is on for her 
 A newborn calf having breakfast on the yard as I drove out to a meeting last week


Friday, July 19, 2019

Full moon July 2019

 Full moon; 16 July 05h58
 Waning gibbous 18 July 2019. 19h39
Sunrise 19 July 07h12 

I'm linking to Skywatch Friday here


Monday, July 15, 2019

A harrowing week

Hello dear bloggers. I managed to help Ambrose post a while back and fully intended to get back to blogging myself. 

However, last Saturday I had a call from, Lana,  a lady who'd been caring for my brother, Andries, This is my second oldest brother; Phillip, the oldest sibling, lives in Estcourt, 45km from me. Rosemary, the baby of the family, lives in Spain with her husband, Peter.  

Andries, whom we called Boyce, had contracted the flu in June and Rosemary arranged for a doctor to call on him at home and treat him. He drained the fluid from Boyce' lungs , and then said he was sending samples away for testing. 

Two weeks later Boyce was so weakened by the flu virus which is virulent in SA at the moment, that Lana asked me to fetch him and take him to be live with Phillip.

My family in Spain were very concerned that I a mature woman would drive this distance on my own. My neighbors, Ronnie and John were also worried and said I should call them from any part of the trip if I needed them to come and fetch me! 

I left the farm at 5am; filled up with fuel in Ladysmith where my sister sent me as Whatsapp asking me to let them know the minute I arrived at Boyce's house. 

I stopped in my brother's driveway at 9.45. Lana was waiting to accompany me indoors. She said I would get a fright when I saw my brother. 

I did. 

He had deteriorated so since I saw a photo of him in April this year. (the one here below) But we managed to help him to the car, with his personal possessions in the back and we set off. \]\

Along the way, he seemed to cheer up. He kept saying, I'm so glad I'm going home! We reminisced about our childhood and also about the fun times we had as young adults. Grant and I and Rosemary visited Boyce regularly at his bachelor pad in Johannesburg.  A great adventure in those days! 

I stopped at Phillip's farm at 2.30 Sunday afternoon. Phillip was waiting and as we opened the passenger door, I was horrified to see how blue and swollen  Boyce's feet and ankles were. He hadn't said a word to me although I can imagine how his limbs must have been paining. We helped him out of the car and into the house - which took all of ten minutes - where he sat catching his breath while Phillip and I collected his suitcase from the car. 

I came home and later Phillip Whatsapped to say Boyce was feeling much stronger and that he'd get him to hospital the next day. 

But on Monday, on the way to hospital, Boyce took his last labored breath and passed away. 
My brother, Boyce: 12 May 1949 to 8 July 2019 

Rest in Peace our sweet brother. 

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ambrose is back as kitty journalist!

Hi Bozo and Mum's blog readers; this is Ambrose back on Blogger after a L O N G time. We are all well and being cared for Mum. She is home a LOT more which is great for us kitties and Skabenga (Mum posted about him eating peanut butter on the lawn yesterday, so I don't have photos of him today)

  1.  I, Ambrose, am now the Alpha male and sometimes feel trapped among three girl cats! How I miss my dad Ginger and Unca Shadow 

 Mama Cat lives mainly in the bedroom because I can't bring myself to accept her. I think Mum feels now she is home more often, she'll manage to integrate us. I wonder...
 Missy is everyone's darling; we all love her and she is constant company for Mama Cat because she tends to open doors (jumps on the handle and pulls the door open) and has had a narrow escape with the dogs next door when she got out of the window while Mum was away. Phew! 
Chappie is still the cat who calls incessantly for cookies - whenever she sees Mum or Thandiwe 

For more cute pet posts, please click here