Sunday, July 19, 2020

Serendipity or coincidence

  1. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
    "a fortunate stroke of serendipity"
  1. 1.
    a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.
    "it was a coincidence that she was wearing a jersey like Laura's"

While browsing through my archives on Saturday, I came across photos of a road trip on 12 July 2016. This was no ordinary road trip. It was a journey undertaken between our home in Marquard in the Free State and Cape Town on the Southernmost tip of Africa. 1,167km on the National Freeway, the N1. In 48 hours turnaround. 

Our friend, Rudi had traveled up to Marquard from the Western Cape, earlier that week. Grant and Rudi had a mine business deal in Cape Town and decided to travel down in our car, stay one night with friends in Bellville and return the next day. 

As you do.


It's a loooong way to Cape Town and normal people normally did the trip over two or three days. 

We used our car (seen here below)  
Rina and I standing in front of  Grant's car which he took great care of 

Grant was very particular about all his vehicles and didn't relish any marks or scratches on the car or motorbike. 

A week before we did the road trip, I had to collect [Grant's] chronic medication from our local clinic. I popped in there mid-afternoon as the queues are much shorter at this time of the day. Back in the car, as I reversed, the afternoon sun blinded me quite a bit. I turned and drove forward and seeing a friend driving into the parking lot, I smiled and waved. 

And heard a loud scraping sound...

Ergh. Those rims on the wheels (see photo above) are low and had caught the pavement kerb as I, half blinded, and waving didn't watch what I was doing! 

I drove straight to Rina's house in the retirement center and asked her to bring a black marker pen to the car. Rina, always very highly-strung, immediately got the vapors and said "Grant is going to be so mad at you!"

I said thanks for the vote of confidence but this is what I want to avoid. Still shaking and mumbling, Rina bent down and blacked the quite-significant scratch on the left rear wheel rim.

I returned home, checked the rim when I got home and was satisfied that Grant's sharp eye would not notice anything amiss. 

On the way to the Cape, I sat in the back with my laptop, in between taking photos of the passing landscape on my Canon camera.  Business was conducted, we slept over and left Cape Town early the next morning. Grant was driving. 

During the morning we stopped off at small hamlet beyond Swellendam where Bertus and Baka lived. 

Grant, Rudi and Bertus first met on the diamond mines (Oranjemund Namibia) in the nineties. In 2002 Grant employed Rudi and later Bertus to work in West Africa on the gold mines. In 2010, Grant had a project for Bertus while he ran a British plant hire company in Khartoum, Sudan. In 2012, Grant arranged with the MD of the Fluorspar mine where Grant worked in Kenya, for Bertus to spend three weeks helping with a project at the time. Here in July 2016, Grant and Rudi had successfully concluded a mine deal of safety protocols. These three musketeers come a long way and it was only fitting that while Grant and Rudi were passing, they visit Bertus. 

By 2.30 pm we reached Colesberg, where I posted about the birds we'd seen while having a bite to eat. At 3 o'clock we were ready to take on the road again, 

Then Rudi offered to drive. 

Rudi suffered from COPD, a chronic inflammatory lung disease which obstructs airflow to the lungs. Rudi was also a chain-smoker; in fact I think the cigarettes somehow helped him to breath, as crazy as that may sound. Rudi did everything in slow motion, obviously due to his condition. So while a car trip from Colesberg to Marquard should only take four hours max, this was not going to happen with Rudi behind the wheel.

The N1 between Colesberg and Bloemfontein is flat, wide, well maintained and generally not busy with traffic. But Rudi engaged top gear and drove at a sedate 90kph. Not only that. Every 25 to 30 minutes, Rudi would slow down, pull off the road and stop the car. 

Smoke break!

Grant was not a patient man. Especially not this day. I chuckled quietly to myself when I saw him grab hold of the arm rest as we pulled off for the umpteenth time. Of course, he never once said anything. 

Around 5.31pm (I know, because my camera file information gave me these details)  we stopped again and while the men stood at the car facing the veld beyond, I stood on the other side of the car and took photos. Of them and the sunset.
Rudi having a smoke, Grant beside him. Even years later I can feel Grant bristling with frustration at the delay 

To be fair to my dear husband, he and I traveled extensively. In the car and even more trips on the motorbike. He and I both decided on a time to leave and we would leave then. Along the way, mainly when on the motorbike, we'd stop and take photos; pop into farm stalls and curio shops along the way. But we always reached our destination before the sun went down.

We eventually entered Bloemfontein and Rudi pulled in at the Bloem Engen One Stop to refuel. I visited the rest room and afterwards bought a snack for each of us. It was now 10pm and there was no ready food at home. 

If we ever got there! 

From Bloemfontein to the turnoff to Winburg (a town 60km from Marquard), we still traveled on the N1. Then we turned onto the regional road and had to slow to a crawl because of the potholes. These last kilometers were a nightmare, and as I said above, Grant and I would have been home many hours before this. 

Finally we drove up the street where we had our home. Rudi used the remote which opened the gate. Both Eddie and Skabby came bounding onto the driveway in front of the car. Rudi (saying afterwards he was trying to avoid the dogs) turned sharply, too close to the gate post...

...and heard a loud scraping noise. 

As Rudi parked the car on our patio, both front doors flew open, both men jumped out and went to assess the damage. 

Rudi had scraped the left real wheel rim! 

Grant was telling Rudi, "Not too bad; don't worry, Mate"; I unobtrusively took my luggage, greeted the excited dogs and went indoors. 

To bed.

Next morning while walking the dogs on the golf course, I phoned Rina. When I told her what had happened, she burst out laughing  saying I can thank my lucky stars Rudi is so slow! 

Rudi passed away in October 2017. Grant at the end of November 2017.  Bertus passed away in March 2018.  These three intripids are managing earthmoving companies in the sky. 

None the wiser! 

Kitties help Mum

Hello all Mum's blogger friends; this is Ambrose posting about how we kitties help Mum while she has been not - too - well. 
 Mum enjoys our company so I stay close by her 
Aunty Jenny, Mum's nursing friend, brought this cheerful comforter for Mum to snuggle under. Of course, I love it too! Here I am lying against Mum's legs while she works at her line-on business

When the other nurse comes to help Mum, Missy jumps onto the cupboard and looks down on them both. The nurse is very stern looking and wearing a mask (as all yoomens have to now) she seems even more frightening. But she is helping Mum to get better by putting plastic paper on Mum's leg. 
Missy on the cupboard while Mum's nurse is in the room

Below the lady kitties hog the bar heater. Behind the heater is a ridge in the carpet. Mum's house was the farm workshop and was built near a big tree. The tree has since died, but the root is under the bedroom floor. Unca Shadow used to like sharpening his claws on this handy root under the floor. Nowadays, only Chappie uses it. 
 The girl kitties enjoy the bar heater

To all the other kitties out there, be safe with your yoomens. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Saturday Critters from my archives

Good morning to all my dear blogger friends. I have had two weeks of rest although I am walking about as much as I can, doing things around the house. But I seem to end up resting on the bed most of the day. The scar is healing well according to the sister who dresses it twice a week.
Not to put too fine a point on it, above is what the wound looks like, albeit it's on my calf. 

With lots of time now, I have gone back into my archives and enjoyed viewing my photos from way back when. I decided to share a few of these here on Saturday Critters. 

Living in Marquard 2015 - 2016, I took the dogs to the nearby golf course every day.  They loved it! 
 Eddie and Skabby literally bounding off the ground with joy 

I had Skabby as a pup in Marquard. He would always wait patiently while Mum takes photos. He still does this when we walk along the farm roads. (Not happened for several weeks) 

A young Skabby waiting patiently while I took photos 
A Yellow-billed stork in the golf course dam, Marquard
A marsh owl on a fence of farmlands on the way to the city 

Sometime during that last year in Marquard, (2016)Grant, Rudi (a friend) and I undertook a road trip to Cape Town, 1160 km from Marquard. I will post about this later;  it brought back poignant memories as I scrolled through the images. On the way down we stopped at an Engen One Stop, fuel station, rest rooms, restaurants and Quick Shop. This was at Colesberg, on the direct national route, the N1 between Cape Town and Bloemfontein. 

While enjoying a takeaway snack in the car park, I spotted a bird on the tall lamp post at the entrance to this layby. I walked towards it with my camera and was rewarded with this below. 
A Giant Kingfisher, female 

When I strolled back to the men and our car, I noticed a bird pecking at the crumbs left by people like us, eating at this spot. It was a Wattled Starling, non-breeding male or adult bird. I dubbed it female as she was very industrious while looking for food. 

 Wattled Starling - female 

Thanks dear Eileen for hosting this meme; Saturday Critters here

Be safe and have a great Saturday! 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Kitty journalist is back

Good morning Mum's blogger friends; this is Ambrose with the latest news of the Hedges household.

We all know Mum has a sore paw leg. I had a sore paw many years ago; Mum posted on Blogger about this:  I went to the kitty doctor in a beeeeg place with many cars riding the streets.

Mum is resting on the bed and Mama and Missy are on the bed with her. I sleep on the veranda at night and under a  bush in the sun in the daytime. 

Chappie stays near the heater in Mum's room.

 Chappie knows where it is warm
 Mum's bedroom office with her two assistants: Mama and Missy

 I, the Kitty Journalist waiting to get indoors early in the morning 
Here I watch to see where Mama is - she hisses and growls at me...

Life is back to normal in our house 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

I'm home

At the risk of being boring (nothing as mind-numbing as another's ailments, unless you're involved), I'm posting my return home. 

All went well in theater and my Group Assistant Jill collected me and brought me home to the farm. 

Jill in blue, moi in pink

Interestingly , the hospital gave me a blue surgical mask which I had to wear ALL the time. Into theater, while asleep that night and all day in the ward. I was in a private ward. All the staff wore masks and visors,  like Jill is wearing above.

I have all these wonderful friends around; Ron bought my groceries on Thursday; Janine, my other neighbor, brought my Avon order home from town. I unpacked it and on Thursday, Arina (my Avon mentor) collected the customer's orders from me to be delivered. The sister from Estcourt did my dressing on Thursday (to be repeated twice more next week) and Jenny our local palliative and hospice nurse, visits me in between. 

Young Derryn and Jenna, next door, treated me as well. Derryn cut my hair and Jenna gelled my nails. 

I am truly blessed with such wonderful neighbors and friends. 

Our Internet seems to be playing ball, so I intend to visit  your blog posts today.

Be safe out there 



Sunday, July 5, 2020

The plot thickens

Good morning dear Blogger friends. Another week has passed; another week of me laid up with my injured leg elevated and friends helping me.

My neighbor, employer, landlady, friend and one of my Weigh-Less members, took me back to my doctor on Tuesday. The infection had subsided. However, after he scanned the haematoma, his advice was exploratory surgery.

I said, that's fine, please could he do it right there under local anesthetic for me. He said, no; over the years the hospital in the closest large town, Ladysmith, which he and 14 other doctors established 40 years ago and used for the next 20 until democracy in our country, had deteriorated to such an extent, he hasn't performed minor surgery and ofttimes, major operations since the mid-nineties. 

By the time I got to the receptionist, she had booked me in with a surgeon in Pietermaritzburg. The next day. I didn't want to take Ron and John away from the farm another day, so I phoned Jill, my Group Assistant from the rooms and asked if she would take me. She kindly agreed. What would I do without my friends?

The next morning, with a small case packed in case I was admitted immediately, we set off for the city. I saw the doctor, a young Indian with a reputation as a great surgeon. He said he'd have admitted me as soon as Friday but, due to Covid-19 there was a shortage of beds. His receptionist finally managed to find me a bed in Hilton Life on Monday, a private hospital 22km before the city. By now Jill said if Ron and John took me on Monday, she would collect me on Tuesday.

After going walking across the medical center car park, to a small clinic where a nurse in full protective clothing, a mask and a visor, did the Covid test on me. 

Jill and I returned home by 5.30 Wednesday night. She still had to drive home through Winterton to her farm beyond town.  

The next morning I started the procedure of arranging my hospital plan authorization. Initially, the call center officer suggested a 24 hour stay (minimum, else the claim is rejected) which would pay ZAR10,000 / US$590. I already had the doctor's estimate. I phoned the hospital accounts who returned my call ten minutes later with her quote: accommodation and theater ZAR19, 980 / US$1000 ! By now I'd contacted the anesthetist who quoted me R6800! Far more than the amount the plan would pay. 

I never sit down, give up and expire. Being a proactive person, I logged onto my health plan website. Scrolling down I saw a section which said:  accident/trauma. For this they paid out up to R75,000. After tracking down the manager, a Ms Karen Odendaal working from home, as the virus is peaking in our country, I put my case to her. I explained that I wasn't actually ill but had had a fall which caused the trauma of a haematoma. She was wonderful and said she'd change my claim from the original hospital stay to accident/trauma and would authorize ZAR40,000/ US$790 to be paid. 


I received the quote yesterday; it states that if more treatment is necessary, incurring further costs, the hospital is to phone my medical insurance which would cover up the the maximum on the plan. 

As I said in my post last week; I am not a hypochondriac. I kept my illness under wraps for five months last year until I had to have surgery.  I also remember reading Anni's (I'd rather be birding blog) post about how she suffered a heart attack and what we should be aware of. 

Therefore I decided to post about these mundane issues  (sic!) , in the hope that should any vintage woman, living alone like I am, have similar problems with her medical insurance, to look at the benefits again and ensure she is covered accordingly.

My Covid test returned via text message : "Not detected" . The lab covers its butt by using this terminology but at least I have clearance to be admitted to hospital.  Which is a mixed blessing  as hospitals are raging with the virus!

I'm admitted tomorrow, Monday, will have the op in the afternoon and be discharged by 2pm on Tuesday. All things being equal . 

It's ironical. Until mid-2019, I hadn't been in hospital for 35 years. Now I'm in for surgery twice in nine months. 

Be safe out there.

Have a wonderful Sunday!