The Easter Bunny that got away

Happy Easter everybody! Thought I’d give you all a giggle and share my humiliating humping bunny story…

Many years ago one of my awesome teacher friends asked me if I would dress up as a bunny and hop around the little forest that perched on one of the corners of their school grounds (it was a fabulous private school).

I would also have a basket filled with Easter Eggs which I would toss out and  “hide-in-plain-sight” for the kids to find. Then they’d share them equally in class afterwards.

It seemed like a simple task.

The due date arrived and I wriggled into the full, furry (very musty smelling) bunny suit. Ronelle pointed me in the direction of the forest. There was a gate at the far end which she had unlocked for me and a getaway car was waiting on the road to spirit Mrs Bunny off.

Ronelle envisaged that the kids would be a tad nervous and would be more interested in collecting the Easter eggs.

So I set off, merrily hopping around – feeling like a 24-carat, grade-A idiot. But hey! Anything for friends – right?  I had not hopped far when I spotted a dog.

A big dog.

I like dogs.

A lot

But I’d never really hung out with them before looking like a bunny and smelling like a dusty, mouldy old heap of matted fur. I started getting a tad nervous when said dog bounded up and started sniffing me.

“Nice doggy, now shoo,”  I mumbled through my bunny head-gear.  “Lovely dog.  Seriously… now bug off and let me do my job so I can get out of this smelly suit.

Was starting to sweat and the pong was getting more disgusting by the second.

But noooo….

Said dog liked Mrs Bunny so much he wanted to have her babies – literally. He started humping my leg.

I tried to shake him off.

He was having none of it. The harder I shook the more he humped.

By now I had an extra worry. Ronelle was going to give me a few minutes to get into the forest and hide some eggs and then she was going to let her kids out of class.  They should have just had a delightful glimpse of Mrs Easter Bunny – calmly hopping from tree to tree.

Not be traumatised for life by witnessing cross-breeding in action.

I could hear the kids chattering wildly – they weren’t far away.

I bonked the dog on the nose with the egg basket and started running.

To hell with all this hopping stuff.

The dog followed—hot on my fluffy bunny tail.

I was about halfway through the forest by now, the gate was almost in sight, but my basket was still fullish.  Stopped for breather behind a large tree.  Mr Dog grinned up at me, fangs glinting, tongue lolling, as he eyed my furry leg again.

I let rip with some choice language and once more bopped him lightly on the nose. Dashed to the next tree – heart pounding.

This was supposed to be a mythical, mystical, Easter surprise for the kids.

They were not supposed to find out that the Easter Bunny was in actual fact some old (okay – I was not so old then) auntie in a fusty smelling suit.

Started dropping the eggs on the pathway. In fact, I tossed a few at the dog in the hopes that they might distract him. What dog does not fancy a bit of chocolate? (Yes I know it’s bad for them – but I was desperate.)

But this dog was not to be distracted in the slightest.

Round about then there was a shout, one of the kids had spotted me. 

So much for them being afraid of a wo-man-sized bunny. They sprang into action and charged.

Now I had a dog a few metres behind me and kids gaining on me by the second. They were not one bit interested in the eggs – they just wanted to catch the Easter Bunny.

I decided discretion was the better part of valour, flung the whole basket over my shoulder and ran like hell. Skidded through the gate,  jumped into the getaway car – yelling, “Go, Go, Go!”

Thought I might actually die from laughing that day.

Happy Easter everybody.

Flirting with Cancer – Part III

This was the little blob that started it all.

If you’ve started the journey on this blog – you might want to start at the beginning – otherwise it might not make sense.

By now my nervous levels were amped and darting all over the place. Was in full  corny joke mode and started chatting to my ward neighbours. Did not get to torture everybody for too long because another dude pitched up.

Show time.

Said good-bye to Chris and watched nervously as we tootled off into the lift and ascended into a part of the hospital I’d never seen before.

Pre-op. It was chilly as hell in there. A nice dude came and tucked a warm blankie-type thing around me. Stopped me shivvering – not sure if it was from the cold or with fear.

Several other people popped up waving forms around, checking my signature, was this mine? Was I sane and of sound mind… huh? Was I ever? Asking questions about nail polish and false teeth and when I last ate. Was I wearing the sexy undies? They gave me another pair of bloomers (okay not really but looked a lot like them) to put on my head.

The anaesthetist was running late and had not pitched up yet. 13h00 came and went. There was a giant-sized clock on the wall so I could see each minute ticking away. At some stage I pulled the bloomers down over my nose and shut the shitty world out.

I so badly wanted to get this whole freaking thing over with.

Eventually the dude pitched up, apologized for being late and the show got on the road. Apparently they like to double check that you are not talking shite and have not lied to the nursing staff. Really? I mean if you do something stupid like eat – it’s your life on the line. Who does that?

A beefy orderly wheeled me into the upstairs bowels of the operating area. Chilly as hell became even chillier.  We arrived at the venue. I had to scoot onto an icy slab and feel that I was in the middle – I guess they did not want me rolling around and falling off mid-op now – did they?

There were three bright lights above and it was fucking scary.

My doctor loomed into view. I’d already had a jab of something to make me drowsy and the dude had said sometimes people got truthful. Not me. I just started bitching about how his useless receptionist had booked me for a boob job…

Next thing I knew a nurse was tapping me telling me to wake up.


Everything throbbed and burned and hurt like shit. Tilted my head to check that I still had my whole arm and hand. (Yes really – I had been very worried that they might chop it off in my sleep – stupid hey? Chris laughed like a drain when I told him.)

She asked if I was in pain. Fuck yeah. Took a million years for her to scome back. She rolled me over and jabbed me in the bum. That was sore too.

Lay there looking at the same big clock and realised I’d just lost more than an hour and a half of my life, as well as bits and bobs of body.

Eventually they wheeled me back to the ward. When my eyes lit on my lovely husband they filled with tears and leaked down my face.

My mouth felt like a thousand camels had trekked through it – was finally allowed a sip of water – 17 hours later.

Every little movement hurt like hell. Chris sat there and held my good hand – beaming love and support into my bod.  Feeding me with sips of water every so often – it’s a shite feeling when your teeth stick together!

Eventually they brought me supper – at some ungodly early hour of the afternoon. I took one look and decided perhaps not but slurped down some  shitty hospital coffee though that tasted fabulous.  We waited eagerly for the doctor to appear and give me the all clear to go home.

He arrived, greeting me with “How are you. Sore? I supposed that’s a silly question!” I replied – Fucking silly question! Can I go home now – with some industrial strength pain killers and a sleeping tablet please??

But noooo…. he thought it would be a much better idea for me to stay the night in hospital and my ridiculous husband agreed with him. Better pain control and the nurses could monitor stuff.

Did you ever!

Did not have the strength to argue. Besides I was attached to those voluminous blue knickers – was not ready to hand them over yet. Okay – I lie – was too sore to even contemplate putting clothes on and walking any distance. So I wimped and agreed to stay the night.

Chris went home, promising to bring me pizza (which I had bizarrely been lusting after) for supper later.

I dozed. The pain was quite interesting – and I have a very high threshold for pain. There was a feisty old lady in the corner bed – who was a survivor from the camps in the Second World War. She kept telling the nurses interesting stories and the other two ladies in the ward and I eavesdropped unashamedly.

Chris Whatsapped  later and said he was on his way back to the hospital. I texted furiously back and nixed the pizza- a ham and cheese homemade sandwich would be just lovely. True, I’d been lying there in bed, drooling for pizza, but could not for the life of me figure out how I was going to actually sit up and eat it without dripping greasy stuff all over the bed – besides – both arms were sort of incapacitated. One with a drip and the other with a chopped out forearm section and goodness only knows what was going on under my arm. I had yet to see. There was a drain too with an interesting looking concertina type thing attached to some tubing… attached to me.

In fact – I had no arms for the blood pressure thingy – they had to use my leg.

It should go on record – that was THE most delicious sarmie I have ever eaten.

I finally convinced Chris to go home and sleep. He’d had a horrendous day just sitting around worrying about his pain-in-the-ass wife. He was beyond exhausted.

Got doled out two pain killers and a half a sleeping pill around 22h00. Thought yay me – for once in my life I will sleep. Not so. Was awake again at 01h30. Mind you – it’s not very peaceful in hospital. They are always waking you up to poke and prod you and stick things in your ear.

Next morning finally arrived –  woofed down the breakfast that the other two ladies looked disparagingly at. It was totally delicious. Chris pitched up bright an early – after all the doctor had said that he’d release me when he did his early morning rounds.  Early my backside! He took his own sweet time.

Everything was still sore but bearable. The drain was removed, the hole covered up and I saw that there was an enormous track that had been cobbled up under my arm. I later found out – when the doctor removed the stitches, that they had removed the entire lymph node under my arm. That part of the operation was very much bigger than the excising of the melanoma bit.

Later that night, when I stripped and got into bed, I found this was still attached to my back. We had a good laugh and Chris peeled it off. The wound under my arm was incredibly uncomfortable. The next morning when I showered, I was horrified to discover that the whole of the back of my shoulder and arm was completely numb. Except for the bit  above my elbow where it felt like it had pins and needles – sort of.

Apparently this is normal and it takes 3 to 4 months to get the feeling back. A bit of warning would have been nice.

Waiting for the results was just horrible. Everybody was telling me to be positive – but it had not occurred to me that the mole could have been a melanoma in the first place – and I’d been incredibly complacent. So I was not going to make that same mistake. Was cautiously optimistic.

We’d been told he’d give me a call on the Wednesday or Thursday. Life went on and I started driving on Tuesday (the op was the Friday before). Mom needed pills. I do confess, that when I had to go back to the shops on Wednesday because Clicks had messed up mom’s pills and she’d not checked – I had a meltdown. Stomped into my GP’s rooms and demanded to know what had happened to the histology report – who had screwed up and then promptly laid my head on the desk and wept. Then fled . (Called Chris and told him that there should be a support group for people who had to live with their 84 year old mothers, damn near broke my cell phone with all the snot and tears.) It’s not always easy. For any of us. But mom not having her license makes it a little harder. Had to take her a PS- I’m sorry choccy the week after and apologize. At least the waiting room had been empty because I had let rip with some choice words.

On Thursday – 6 days after the op, I emailed Miss Thang at “My doctors” office, reminding her to remind him that he was supposed to call me with the results. Par for the course there was no nice little reply back. She has absolutely no people skills at all.

The doctor called a few hours later and gave me the all clear.

Chris brought home champers that night and we all celebrated. Well not quite. It had been very stressful on everybody – tippy-toeing around a person who was branded with the dreaded C. Once I got the all clear, Emma fell to pieces and had a hissy fit. I could understand it.

On the 4th of June (3 days late because the dude went on holiday – check out the lovely professional emails). I had the stitches out of both places. My arm looks pretty good – specially if you look at it from above. From the side it looks a bit like a lop-sided camel.

8cm of cut!

The place under my arm is not half as neat. Think whoever sewed that up was practicing to be an upholsterer. In fact, I’m sure they used the opportunity to check out the insides of my elbow with the gamma camera whilst they were grovelling under my arm. Or that’s what it feels like, anyway.

The entire month of May 2018 was filled with stitches, worry, panic, more worry, jubilation, pissed-offness and being incredibly thankful that that I got the all clear – well – put it this way – that particular node was clear.




Flirting with cancer – Part II

If you missed the first bit of this dastardly cancer journey – start here.

The 18th May finally arrived. D day.  I’d set about 6 alarms because I’d been sleeping unbelievably badly and sometimes fell dead asleep around 5ish. We had to be at the hospital at 07h30.

Not being allowed anything to eat or drink meant no coffee. But the furries still needed to be fed.

It was one of those crisp wintery mornings where everything smells of a brand new day – with a hint of exhaust fumes.

There were only a couple of people at reception and so the booking-in process was a doddle… except for the fact that I noticed – after they had already printed 60 stickers – that the Medical Aid member code was for Chris and not myself. We groaned – perfectly sure that this was going to cause plenty of hassles later on.

Turns out all my doctor’s patients get put in the gynaecology slash urology ward. We were given directions how to get there.

Fuckydoodle! I thought to myself as I saw what number bed I had been assigned to – really – number 13?  You’ve got to be kidding. I want another bed.

But no – 13 it was. Seemed pathetic to make a fuss and ask for the bed by the window. (Those are the best spots – by the way… if you ever do have a choice.)

The nice sister pitched up with a gajillion forms and a receptacle covered with a crackling baggie. She pointed to the bathroom – samples were needed. It’s hard widdling into a bottle when your hands are shaking.  I got weighed and measured. The nurse oohed and aahed over my lovely weight.

Chris sat next to my bed feeling very much like the odd man out in the ladies ward. I offered him the choice of breakfast at Wiesenhof but he declined.  It was warm in the ward after the brisk chill of the morning outside and I shed layers of clothing including my boots and made myself comfy sitting cross-legged on the bed. It was going to be a freaking long time to 13h00 when the op was scheduled.

Two seconds later a dude pitched up with a wheelchair. I was needed in nuclear meds.  Somehow I had fondly imagined that another nice nurse was going to pitch up with a needled full of toxic stuff that would be injected into my veins… not so.

No really… I protested – I can walk. It was, however, not an option. Hopped back into my boots and into the chair. We were half way down the corridor when I asked if I could take my book. He sighed – yes – I could have my book. So I leapt out of the chair before he could object and started running back… a few steps away I stopped and said – well could I have my phone too – else how was I going to be in contact with Chris. Double sigh – clearly he realised this was going to be a high maintenance patient.

Chris saved the day and dumped my entire handbag on my lap and the journey began again.

Down the passage (back the way we’d just come) and into double doors marked “nuclear medicine”.  My trustworthy driver parked me in an empty section and departed. I gave my name to the receptionist and pointed out that the number on the sticker was wrong. She rectified it – for their section anyway.

I sat, heart thumping. Not knowing what to expect.

I should mention here – the answers that I had gotten from “my doctor” were sketchy and not really satisfactory – but I’d decided it wasn’t important – I could surely find all the information I needed on the internet. Turned out this was not the case. I was frantically messaging my friends from iThemba LABS days – asking how it all worked – and trying to figure out what the procedure exactly entailed.  How did removing or biopsying a sentinel node work. What did it involve?  There was loads of info on certain things and absolutely nothing on others. The best I could come up with was this really scary video the night before the op. Then I really panicked. Have no clue if I was just  a crappy Googler or if people don’t tag with the correct keywords – but I was unprepared to say the least.

A nice lady came out and introduced herself. She asked me either when, or where, I’d had the mammogram.


My chin dropped onto my knees. Gobsmacked! Really? I was supposed to have had a mammogram for this op? WTF? Nobody told me.

Never – was my reply.

She crossed her arms – a bit shocked.

Well… how do you know you’ve got breast cancer then?

The receptionist nodded. Yes – you’ve been booked in for breast cancer nuclear meds.

I exploded – that bloody woman had fucked up again. Seriously! (According to the receptionist it was not the first time either. Apparently she was new.) I didn’t care what she was – I was really miffed.

The nice lady had to go off and recalibrate her machine or whatever it is they do – with the correct dosage of nuclear meds. I sat there fuming. Imagine if they had not had the right meds available and the whole thing had to be postponed again because of one person’s stupidity.

A few minutes later I was ushered into the inner sanctum. A snazzy white gamma ray camera was the focal point.

Oh. Right. Fabulous. Nowhere in any of my googling had this little baby shown up. (I snitched this pic off the internet – leave a message below if you recognise it and want some credit – I’ll happily give it.)

She explained that she was going to inject either side of the now-non-existent mole. The meds would travel up my arm and land up in the sentinel node – or something like that.  I dutifully handed over my arm.

She foofled and fiddled and rearranged things for about 10 or 15 minutes. Then positioned me under the gamma camera. The box like plate with the camera came down close to my face – actually it touched my nose at one stage but I objected and it went back up a few millimeters.  She was really sweet and kept checking that I was comfortable. I had a fluffy thick blanket covering most of me – thought it was a bit over the top in the beginning but turned out it was necessary in the end.

I’m going to leave you here for 30 minutes – she said.

OMG! Really – 30 minutes – lying still. What happens if my nose itches or I want to sneeze. Sneakily slid my eyes over to the monitor to see if I could interpret anything on the screen. Nada. Wickedly wiggled my fingers on the injected arm to see if it made a difference. There was a little star burst on the screen a few seconds later. Tried it out again – but then there was nothing – must have been a coincidence. Got eye ache after a while and retreated into my head. This whole episode was going to be blogged. I started then.

The 30 minutes passed in… well… 30 long minutes. Time does not fly when you are not having fun. It drags.  My jersey sleeve was all wrinkled and was pressing on my elbow bone – it had started to hurt like hell. Was a relief to be able to move again.

The relief was short lived.

She wiggled me around some more and horror of horrors – zooted me further under the camera. My whole head was now under the plate-like box thing. It was even closer to my head. Thought about panicking… then gave myself a strict talking to. How old are you Virginia? 12? Buck the fuck up!

Closed my eyes. It made the claustrophobia worse. So opened them again. The floaters in my eyes drifted off to the side of the plate – out of sight. Hey! Come back – I thought. Play with me. But no – they disappeared. Meanies.

Blinked a few times to see if I could conjure up any more. Nothing. Ho hum… what to do?  I am not a person who likes just lying around doing nothing.

Picked a spot on the plate and disappeared into my head again. The blog blanked – so I retreated to my happy space – a Chris De Berg Concert that my lovely husband had treated us to earlier this year – the one where he touched my hair (no really – he did – but you’d have to read the blog to find out how it happened).  Replayed every single song that I could remember in my head – bitching to myself when I could not remember the words.

That bout thankfully did not last 30 minutes. I was told to go and sit in the reception for 40 minutes and rub my arm a lot – so that the nuclear meds could reach the node under my arm pit. (Don’t think my circulation was that fabulous at that stage.)

I scuttled off on shaking legs and texted my man. He’d come and find me as soon as he’d finished his breakfast.

Breakfast! Jeez – was not hungry but would have killed for coffee.

In the process of the nuclear meds imaging, I had gleaned another little gem of information. The gamma probe that my doctor was going to use to grovel in my lymph node was broken (that could also have been why the op was postponed – but why the hell didn’t the dilly woman tell me that) and so the rep was coming out with a new probe and was going to demonstrate to my doctor how to use it… ON ME!

Holy shite! Was starting to feel very nervous about this whole operation. Chris and I agreed we might need a discount if this was going to be a learning operation. Literally.

The second bout in nuclear meds was not too bad – or too long – thankfully. She drew under my arm and stuck plasters on the blobs – apparently this would enable my doctor to find the node – somewhere in that region. She also told me that she would be there – during the operation to provide information or help interpret the scans… or something. I was relieved – at least they would not be lopping off my boob or anything.

Chris and I grabbed the blanket off the wheelchair and opted to walk back to bed number 13. By now it was around 11h30.

I’d been handed the pictures. In a sealed envelope – with my doctor’s name on it.

Back in the ward I was given the hospital garb to don. That sexy gown with the open back and the ever sexier knickers. Went off to the loo and stripped.


Bit crazy really because the ward’s warm but the toilet’s freezing.

Put the gown on – wrapped the ties completely around me and considered tying them under my boobs. Refrained.  Put the knickers on.  Clearly the wrong way round. Took them off again and put them on the other way.  Took them off yet again and gave them a shake. Maybe I’d used a leg hole for the waist… hmmmm…  fell around giggling in the loo – WTF?  Could have fitted three of me in that one pair of bloomers.

Zooted back to No. 13 and leapt in. More forms needed to be filled in.

After the nurse had departed, Chris picked up the envelope and held it up to the light. We could not see much. But my lovely  husband is not a genius for nothing – he hauled out his cell phone, flipped on the light and positioned it behind the envelope. We could read everything. Of course, it didn’t make much sense to us, but at least we stopped feeling excluded.

By now my nervous level was sky-high and darting all over the place. Was full into corny joke mode and started chatting to my ward neighbours. Poor Chris was doing the cringy thing again.  Did not get to torture everybody for too long because another dude pitched up.

Show time.

Read how it all works out

Going Nuts!

Jack, Gemma and I swished through the carpet of fallen leaves this morning, on our way to the bottom of the garden.

Our destination…  the pecan nut tree.

Off to gather nuts.

Round about this time last year we started looking at houses. The very first house we went to see had a gorgeous garden. Having lived in a complex for more than nine years, after a cursory look inside my lovely husband and I made a bee line for the leafy green area outside.

Crunch crunch went something underfoot. I raised an eyebrow at the estate agent.

Pecan nuts, she replied.

I looked at my man… we must have this house.  And so we bought a pecan nut tree!

Of course, by the time we moved in a few months later, most of the pecan nuts were finished – just the odd solitary one clinging to the bare branches above.

We watched and waited with baited breath. Slowly, but indeed surely, the bare branches turned to leafy green boughs. Teensy green bud-like things eventually appeared. These  too grew slowly, oh so very very slowly.

The first few nuts fell early in April. We pounced on them. However,  green nuts do not taste so fabulous. After a few weeks the quality of the nuts that dropped improved – they ripened to perfection. Fresh off-the-tree pecan nuts taste beyond divine.

The washing line is down by the pecan nut tree and I had this stupid little OCD thing going on in my head – every time I went down there – I needed to come back with a nut, or three, or maybe even four.

Slowly the coffee tins in the kitchen overflowed and bags of nuts were dispensed to people deemed worthy of sharing in our bounty.

This week, the end of May 2018, we had rain – twice – not really what you’d expect when it’s almost winter in Pretoria.

It rained nuts too. Literally. Not one, but two 500ml tubs were filled to overflowing on one single gathering.

This morning Jack, Gemma and I braved the elements and went down to the tree to do a nut inspection.  Gemma immediately snagged a pecan nut and weaseled her “worsie” way under the Wendy house to crunch her loot. (We inherited Gemma the sausage dog with the house. She’s fond of pecan nuts – although unlike her previous owners, we don’t feed her vegan food – so she’s not as hungry as she was last year.)

Jack and I were in mortal danger – the nuts were crashing down around us as we gathered. Jack, in his usual catly fashion, was leaping around trying to catch them as they bounced around on the ground.

We’ve had conversations before about being smacked on the head by a plummeting nut. In fact Luan (aka vetboy) offered to hurl one at me, which I not-so-politely declined. Am sure one would feel a bit like Chicken-Licken when the sky fell on his head.

Spot the nut?

Collecting nuts is a bit like spotting wildlife in the bush. They lie nicely nestled amongst the leaves – camouflaged. Often a bump underfoot indicates that you’re standing on one that’s been sneakily lurking in plain sight.

Isn’t that enough to crunch it – you ask?

No. It’s my test for the ones that feel suspiciously light (usually indicates they’re bad).  A healthy nut does not crunch under my weight on the soil.

Of course it’s compulsive and one’s eyes search further and further afield. This resulted in my getting a boot full of Gemma poop the other day – also camouflaged amongst the leaves.

This cold, wet morning I piled our muddy bounty onto the garden bench.


Jack jumped up and looked at me. Like really? You’re just going to leave them there? Alone? He started pawing at the nuts – sending them zooting around the wet planks, whizzing back down to earth!

One can always count on Jack to assist – no matter what the task.

And all the while we were supervised by our four resident hadedas at the other end of the garden.

Hadedas supervising.

A tad frozen, we returned inside to write this blog. Once again Jack pitched in. He jumped onto my desk, tracked muddy paw-prints all over the place (the mouse is still making nasty scrunchy noises as I move it). He then proceeded to note his comments on a piece of paper next to my laptop.

Jack’s contribution to the blog.

He washed himself, ordered pizza from Domino’s, then curled up and went to sleep in his usual spot… my “In tray”.

Every now and then the cracking sound of a pecan nut hitting the corrugated iron roof of the Wendy house has him extracting his head from his bushy tail and sleepily starting at me – wondering if he should go off and investigate or not.


Jack orders pizza.

It’s just the pecan nuts Jack, I tell him. Nothing to worry your furry little knickers about.

He tucks his head under his tail again and goes back to his twitchy slumber.

Ode to Emma – her 21st (5th August 2011)


I wrote this blog for Emma (aka Igz) for her 21st birthday – this year she will be 28! It is an account of the day she was born. Reason I am posting it here again is because (a) where I originally posted it has long since died and (b) it was the last time I was in hospital for myself. Let’s face it – I went to hospital and came out with exciting new stuff (little did I know quite how exciting that stuff would be – lol)… tomorrow will be a bit different.

The 21st key I made Em

How it all began – hmmm…. you probably wouldn’t want to know those nitty gritty details so let’s skip along to the day you were born 5th August 1990.

I woke up. Erk. Had a fat whinge to myself that my tum was so full of baby there was no space left for me. Decided to rearrange the piano a bit. A little shove to the left. Nope. That did not look great – put it back where it was in the first place.

Your dad sold cars. Thank goodness he also bought cars. Three days before you were born we had a beach buggy with no roof. It was the middle of winter.  He’d put Markie in charge of looking after me during the day when he went off somewhere and was not readily available around the corner to dash me off to hospital. I said I’d rather knuip, thanks very much.

It was a Saturday. There was a car to be seen. I said I’d go with him. Was a bit worried I might have started something by moving the piano. (The same piano had done a pretty good job with Lauren 10 years earlier.) Plus we were being hounded by bastardly estate agents. Were renting the house in Myburgh Street with an option to buy, but the owner of the house decided he wanted to sell then, right then. We didn’t really have the money to buy it right then, so I was busy sabotaging all the prospective buyers.  Being a pregnant knitting needle (that wretched Faithy’s description, when she was not calling me a pregnant grasshopper) I managed to get away with all sorts of beastly hormonal crap. Think they were a tad terrified of me.

So we went off to Milnerton and checked out the car.  Uneventful.

Perhaps I should mention here that I was only eight months preggy. Was not exactly time for you to arrive yet.

In all honesty, can’t much remember what happened for the next few hours, but I do know that some dude was boxing that night at Sun City and your dad thought he was tops. Markie was coming over and they were going to watch the match. Then we were having a braai.

I sat on the stoep – had a nice relaxing brandy and soda (sorry people – yes I had the odd drink when I was preggy – so shoot me) and made fire whilst they watched. Big fire.  The match didn’t last long – two rounds I think. Can remember that we had ribs. They smelled delicious and there was still no space in my tum.

Went to bed. Woke up around midnight with cramps. Bugger. Should not have eaten anything at all. Was very tired. Tried to go back to sleep.

Wait a bit – these are odd cramps.

Nah… can’t do this now.

Tried to go back to sleep.

Sighed… oh crap. Baby time!

Poked your father in the ribs. Oi! Wake up. Baby’s coming!  He leapt up and dashed off to wake Lauren.

Lolla thought she was late for school and promptly climbed into her uniform. We only noticed that later – on our way to drop her off at Gran’s house. Lucky we had a car with a roof by then. Was a chilly early middle of the winter morning.

Of course, we’d never been to HH hospital before so we went to the wrong entrance. This dude sat at reception. Not sure his lift went all the way to the top floor. He totally failed to see any urgency in the situation.

Started filling out a form… uh duh name?  Address?  I kept doubling over with contractions. Your dad and I could not stop giggling. Eventually he gave up and said we could fill it in later.

We had about two miles of corridors to sneak down to the maternity ward. Every few steps I’d stop, grunt, top it off with some stifled giggles and we’d carry on sneaking.

They slapped me into a bed, did their measuring to see how dilated I was and said oh oh – better call your doctor.

Par for the course, the bastard was out.

So they tried somebody else who was standing in for him. Hmmm… unavailable too. (Remember kiddo – there were no cell phones 21 years ago.)  Could hear the nurses mumbling in the doorway, getting a little worried. I piped up between ever increasing contractions – just get any friggin’ doctor wouldcha!

In the mean time, your father, who knows half of the Helderberg basin, was wandering around the maternity ward chatting. Of course he’d bumped into an old friend of his who’d eaten something nasty and had food poisoning. They were worried about the baby so she was waiting to have a C-section.

The pain was getting quite interesting by this time. Could manage it if I lay on my side and your dad rubbed my back – hard.  The nurse came along and put a stop to that. Apparently you were in a bit of distress – I should lie on my back instead.

Not surprising – really had gotten to the stage where I was knuiping, waiting for the wretched doctor.

They hauled the resident dude out of bed – luckily he lives just across the road – and he came skidding into the operating room, literally just in time to catch you. Your dad, who had been quite a star whilst I pushed and grunted, took one look at his little blue smurfie and promptly keeled over in a dead faint. On his way down he knocked over the stool – kadoef – making one hell of a noise in the relatively silent hospital.

Oh shit! Thought I – he’s died.

Promptly tried to get off the bed to check him out. Many hands held me down. A nurse took over and dealt with the last gory bits, whilst the doctor checked your dad was still alive. Not really dead after all, merely a bit overwhelmed. A lot overwhelmed actually.  He came round a while later and sheepishly sloped off with the nurse to get a drink of water.

By this time it was around threeish. They put me in a clean bed – I fell into an exhausted achy slumber. Your dad went home to catch a few hours sleep. He was back by eight the next morning.  At ten the doctor (the one I’d never seen in my life before up to a few hours ago) pitched up to see us.

We were pronounced fine.

That’s great, I said… then I can go home! The nurse stood smugly in the doorway. She’d been telling me how I’d have to stay at least a day or so. Stressed the hell out of me.  Think he read the fire flashing in my eyes and erred on the side of safety – his safety. He let us go.

We went home. You were very very tiny. I climbed into my own bed and snuggled you on my chest under the duvet.  A thousand people came to meet you.

On Monday morning that fuckwitty estate agent called up bright and early wanting to bring prospective clients around to view the house.

See! She said. You’re still at home – you have not had your baby yet!

Hah! I retorted. I’m home yes, but I’ve had my baby!

Flirting with Cancer

Funny how life changes in the blink of an eye. Three weeks ago I was a bit neurotic about going to the dermatologist to check out a mole. This Friday I go for surgery…

Part I – Eating the Frog

Eating the frog!

A few years ago my thyroid blew. This meant that I was on chronic meds and had to go see the GP every 6 months to get my prescription renewed. The first time she saw my arm she freaked… “That has to go!”

I was a tad nonplussed because she’d just told me that I had to have a pap smear at the same time. Seriously – this Dr thing sucks. So I pitched up on the designated day – ready to have the mole on my arm obliterated as well as being checked out for cervical cancer.

By my GP took a second look at my arm and declared that it did not actually look so bad – and decided we should rather just keep an eye on it. I did not get away with the pap smear thing so lightly – but all was good.

This continued for a couple of years – each year she’d check out the mole and go hmmmm…. Looks okay.

This year she looked at the mole and freaked. OMG!!! When did that get so large?

Whaaaaatttt – I replied. It’s not so big. Think a few freckles joined hands – that’s all. But she persisted. It must go.

So take it out – I re-joined.

But no… it turned out that said mole was a tad too large for my GP to comfortably remove. A dermatologist was the order of the day. Or we could let her hubby loose on my arm – he’s a surgeon. But I figured that it was stupid hacking out the whole thing if it was not necessary – rather check it out first.

My GP looked at me sadly and said that their tame dermatologist dude had just died. They would have to find me somebody else. They did too. I was informed that I was really lucky- everybody else was fully booked until August but I had a date booked for the 24th April – a couple of weeks away. I smiled and nodded gratefully, muttering under my breath that I would not mind waiting until August.

So I ate the frog. Let it be known that there are other froggies that have hopped away… the mammogram, the bone density… like I said – I am not fond of this stuff. Let sleeping dogs snooze and all that.

Fast forward to the 24th April. I figured the dermatologist would refer to me to a surgeon if necessary. I was fully expecting to leave intact. I arrived at the place – breathless and a bit late because I had taken a few wrong turns – despite my lovely husband having shown me the way the previous Saturday.

The dermatologist was really awesome. Lovely, cool, calm and collected. She checked out my arm and recommended that we remove the middle section of the mark on my arm – the bit that had the dodgy looking mole. Swift and simple – she needle numbed the spot and removed it chop chop – deftly stitching it up thereafter. I was beyond impressed.

She also had fabulous art work on her walls that I, without my glasses, fondly imagined looked like a fairy tale tree. Turned out it was actually a picture of a follicle.

Fairytale tree… not!

Dr Carpenter (hahahah – my lovely husband pointed out the irony of this later) would send the bit of flesh off to be analysed and would call me if there was anything to worry about. Because there were a spate of public holidays approaching – she’d probably only get the results in just over a week. I was to have my 3 little stitches out in two weeks. If she had nothing to report I would get my results when I had them out.

D-Day arrived and I approached the day with butterflies fluttering around my tum. But no ominous calls were received, despite the fact I eyed out my phone carefully. No calls the next day. Nor the next…  Then it was weekend. On Monday I noticed that I missed a call from the dermatologists. Truly – I did not give it a second thought. They were calling to remind me about my appointment for the next day to have my stitches removed. I did not even bother to  return the call.

Shit gets real – time to face the music.

After lunch on Monday Dr Carpenter called and told me that the news was not that fabulous. A melanoma. But I should not panic or anything because we had caught it early and it was not deep. However – protocol demanded that a surgeon remove more of the said spot.

Feh! I brooded on the news for a couple of hours and then decided I needed to share. My lovely husband came dashing home. Was a bit of a blow to say the least. I had become complacent because I had not heard from Dr C in the designated time. So I assumed all was well.

Tootled off the following day to get my stitches out.. Turned out the lady who was supposed to do this task was not at work that day and Dr C herself took them out. Painless! She exclaimed that the scar she had given me was negligible… but sadly that was not going to last. She gave me letters for my GP and the potential surgeon.

I admit to procrastinating on the way to deliver those letters.

A few hours later my GP called me back – commiserating on the shitty outcome. We agreed that she would get her receptionist to make an appointment with her husband, the surgeon for me. But only after the 10th – we had a fancy awards ceremony for Chris on that day. I needed to be whole.  Also mentioned in passing that the dermatologist had said it would not be a big deal – could probably be done with local anaesthetic.

My GP laughed uproariously. No, probably not, she said. There are lymph nodes involved and centimetres that need to be removed.

My spirits plummeted.

Said appointment was duly made for the 11th May at 09h30.  We got there – a lot of minutes early. I filled out the form. Wrongly.

Chris gently removed the clipboard from my shaking hands and filled it out correctly.

The receptionist or whatever you call that person was jabbering on the phone. She kept saying “My doctor this, my doctor that…”

I admit – my evil twin sister emerged and I mimicked her irritating voice saying “My doctor, my doctor… I’ve also got a doctor… but he’s not a proper doctor.”

Chris cringed. I waited expectantly for a laugh… nothing. Not a peep. Stony silence. Ooopsie.

So right then and there I shot my own self in the foot. (Aaahhhhh – say those of you who might have read my Facebook posts from the past two days. No wonder her op got so screwed up! Never mess with the receptionist.)

The Dr emerged and ushered me into his room.

What can I do for you? he politely inquired? I was completely thrown. WTF? He was supposed to have gotten all the grizzly details from my GP – his very own wife. They had told me they’d already given them to him…

So I explained. Feeling like a bit of a tit – because said dodgy spot had now been removed, the stitches had healed really well and it just looked like a bit as though I’d scratched myself.

He eyed the mark out suspiciously. When did all this happen? Two and a half weeks ago was my reply.

Hmmm… he needed to see the histology report. He excused himself and went out of his room. My heart pounded a bit more.

He came back and did all the doctory thing like… tapping my tum (WTF?), listening to my innards, checking that I could swallow.

Then explained patiently how the whole thing worked. He even drew me a picture. It was like an ellipse – if the spot was so big – then 2cm would removed – but obviously they cannot close up a circle without a skin graft – so for every 2cm width – they need to cut 3 x that in length so they could yank it all together (my words- not his). But because he had not seen the histology report he did not know if it would be 2cm or 4cm… I told him that it was early stage, but he just stared at me. He’d wait and see.

That dastardly evil twin kept rearing her head and I cracked one joke after the other… about old arms… and yay for me – I was finally going to sample some nuclear medicine after working at iThemba LABS all those years…

Turns out the man has no sense of humour. Not a shred. Not a blip. I did not raise a single lip curl. Clearly he and his receptionist get on well.

He told me he operated Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Let’s do it, I replied and chose the first available day.

His lovely lady handed me a form – in Afrikaans nogal – with all the descriptions and codes that we needed to go and pre-book into hospital for the following week. She had the last laugh because she gave us a wrong code which caused havoc and much to-ing and fro-ing.

Eventually I emailed her and got a terse little very unprofessional one-liner back in response.

“0311 should not be used.”

Chris later told me that she took a private phone call when she was supposed to be finding out what happened to the histology report. He was sitting listening and getting more and more pissed off with the length of time she took to get around to the simple little task of providing “my doctor” with the information he should have had before I ever saw him. Not sure what went down there but I sure as hell will ask my GP.

The date was set for the following Wednesday (16th May). In addition to having my arm excavated, I would need to have the lymph nodes investigated – hence the nuclear meds – to check that the cancer has not relocated itself to other parts of my skanky bod!

The day before the op at 10h49 I get an SMS from the anaesthetic dudes which went like this… :

“Ur anaesthetics tomorrow code 1439×60 min(avg time)= R3981.06. Arrange with your m/aid for PMB auth Celliersstr. Narkose Dienste.”

I dutifully emailed this info off to the medical aid. Also tried to call but after waiting for 5 minutes (no really) I got chucked off the system each time.

Then I get a call from the lovely Dr’s receptionist – Due to “unforeseen circumstances” the operation needs to be postponed to Friday.

I freaked. I want to get this over with. ASAP! There was no apology, no niceness, no freaking eff all. Just would this work for me? I asked what bloody choice did I have? Will this work for me? She repeated with an edge to her voice.

Inquired what needed to be done to sort this out with the medical aid – she said she’d do it for me. Like it was a huge favour!

A few minutes later I get an email from the medical aid saying…

Thank you for the email. We kindly require the following clinical information regarding the lesions:

  • Size of the lesions, how long have they been there, are they changing in colour, texture or size, are they painful/sensitive, are they bleeding, which area of the body are lesions on.

Upon receipt of this information the request for authorisation will be referred to our medical advisor for review.

I zapped off a scathing letter – including some photos saying I hoped the medical adviser found that the lesion looked suitably cancerous, and that I was not in the habit of having myself chopped up for fun. Really – I was beyond pissed off. Copied Chris and he phoned to commiserate.

Still utterly bedonered the day drew to a close with nothing really resolved – except for the fact that the operation had been moved to Friday and I would be lumped with another freaking 3 nights of even less sleep than usual.

The next morning the lady from the medical aid phoned – turns out she thought this anaesthetist cost was going to be x 60 instead of figuring out it was the total cost for 60 minutes and she had called the Dr. to find out what exactly what procedures they were going to do.

The stupid blah blah fishpaste receptionist at the Dr said she did not know what they were talking about and instead of involving me in the conversation – the whole operation got postponed from Wednesday to Friday.

I know this does not seem a very long delay in the great scheme of things- but it’s shit enough finding out that you have a melanoma (even if it is an early stage one) and knowing that you have to have an operation – whereby your arm is going to undergo another cut that is going to take weeks to heal again… as well as biopsies on lymph glands to check that it has not spread without being jerked around by a shitty unhelpful receptionist.

She could have avoided the whole delay.

Note to self… NEVER EVER rip off a silly receptionist again.

Note to all receptionists… Don’t fuck with a person who writes.

Finish the Saga

Lucky knickers

Sometimes being the mom in this boomerang house of ours is not all that bad…

The other day Emma – aka Igz – asked if I had any scarves that I do not use.

Ummm… nope. I replied very quickly.

Since the big kids came to live with us – nothing, I repeat, NOTHING is safe anymore. Things get borne off to various parts of the house never to be seen again.

Aaahhhh come on mom – you used to have all those little ones that you NEVER use.

Begrudgingly got up to go and look. Had a plastic bag in my cupboard that I vaguely remember stuffing things into when we moved – things that I no longer wore or did not fit.

We emptied The Bag onto the bed… knickers of all varieties and a couple of saggy old bras. One or two new ones as well – of the boobtube variety that had sliced my body unattractively in half. I’d buried them in disgust rather than return them. Those were the days when my thyroid was busy attacking me and I had no idea – was just packing on weight and could not understand it.

We sifted through the stuff… not a single scarf.

She eyed the bras, What are you going to do with those?

I’d gone from too fat to too thin – so they were not likely to fit me now anyway…

What are you going to do with them?  I enquired.

She’d use bits of them for other things… the underwire, the fastners and stuff. I tossed them onto the Em pile.

We ruffled through the heap and found some undies – never worns that I passed on to my skinny daughter, and some others that I had thought would never fit me again found their way back into my top drawer.

I spotted and pounced on my lucky knickers… green lacy ones that I had loved so much they had holes in the crotch in a very unsexy way. They became unlucky when I was wearing them and my suitcase went missing on a visit to the USA, only to be found 5 days into my 10 day trip.

Hot trip tip people – never pack HIS and HERS suitcases – mix your stuff up!

Hadn’t worn those knickers for years – not since I got divorced back in 2003 but could never bear to ditch them completely, so they had languished in a corner of my top drawer and then been relegated to The Bag.

Give those to me, said Em, snatching them out of my hand and stuffing them into her pocket.

Noooo… I started to howl – then realized I was being pathetic – she’d use the lace for some arty project.  We shoveled the rest of the stuff  into The Bag and stashed it back in the cupboard.

Early next morning, Chris and I were on our way to fetch my older daughter and her family from the Lanseria. They were coming from Cape Town and would be spending Easter with us, then going onto Sun City for a friend’s wedding.  I encountered Em in the passage.

I blinked… What are you doing up and out of your flat so early?

Here. She said – grabbing my hand and filling it with something slinky. It’s your lucky bracelet.

She’d made me the most gorgeous charm bracelet – turning bits of lucky knicker lace into beads.  This is the sort of thing my creative, quirky, tempremental, pain-in-the-ass Em does for a living.   So if anybody wants something creatively recycled – give her a shout.

Lentil Patties

I got this recipe from a very dear friend of mine, Anisabel, who is sadly no longer with us. I enjoyed many Saturday lunches in the Van Zyl’s home back when I was barely out of school and I dated her brother. Lentil patties were a staple in this vegetarian household and were always totally delicious.

I had not made them for ages and had to rack my brains for the recipe the other day.

I knew that potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic were involved, with some flour and eggs to bind them.  I also knew for sure you did not soak the lentils like you do beans. After racking my brains some more I just decided to wash them.

Turned out I had forgotten to boil them.

That’s what you have to do – boil the freaking lentils for 45 minutes first.

The patties were unbelievably tasty but the lentils were like little rocks. Upon consulting Mr Google it was discovered that eating uncooked lentils was not recommended. We decided to try microwaving the patties to see if that helped at all. Indeed it did not – just made them worse.

So instead of having lentil patties and potato bake that night we just had potato bake.

The next day I was not taking any chances. I soaked the lentils for a couple of hours (upon the advice of a friend of mine – she said they do this when making biryani).

This is what I did after soaking…

(NB – I’m cooking for 6 people – the quantities below made around 20 patties – so down- or up-scale accordingly.)

Boiled half a packet of lentils for 45 minutes. 

Added the following veggies to the boiled lentils:

2 potatoes – grated
3 small onions – chopped (but you could grate them if you want)
3 smallish carrots – grated
teaspoonful of smooshed garlic (the stuff you buy in a bakkie in the shop)
dash of soy sauce
salt & pepper

Mixed everything up and then added two eggs and enough flour to bind.

(At this point Luan came into the kitchen and looked at the uninviting mixture in horror. “That looks DISGUSTING” he grimaced. Luckily he had tried the failures the night before and knew they did not taste too shabby.)

I then plopped tablespoonfuls of the mixture into hot oil and fried the patties until they were nice and brown.

Chris and I scarfed a few down in the kitchen before supper. They were all crunchy and delicious.

But don’t do what I then did…  kept them in a covered up bowl for 20 minutes until I had finished cooking the basil pasta – so they went all gross and soggy (although they still tasted good).

Probably best if you serve them immediately rather cooking.

Incidentally… Gemma thought the lentils were quite tasty too and demolished all the left over bits that Emma had refused because she said the texture was revolting. Happily they are not toxic for dogs. In fact some dog food suppliers use lentils as fillers instead of corn. But they did make her a bit farty though. Jack on the other hand refused to even sniff them.

Lentils are a part of the legume family. These small seed-like vegetables are nutrient dense and inexpensive, making them an ideal superfood. They are a fabulous source of molybdenum and folate. They’re also a great source of dietary fibre, manganese, copper and phosphorus. Not to mention being a good source of iron, protein, vitamin B1, B6, pantothenic acid, potassium and zinc.

Toolkit for Teenagers and Twenty-Somethings

A few simple rules that will get you far in life.

Please and thank you will get you far. Seriously. They will.

If you receive a gift (it does not matter if you think it’s crappy) thank the person who gave it to you. This can be done in several ways:

  • Thank the person personally
  • Pick up the phone
  • Write a letter
  • Send an sms or whatsap
  • Send a message on Facebook
  • Leave a post on the person’s wall
    NB – Generic messages on your Facebook wall do not count.

If you get into a car (like you are getting a lift or something) say “hullo” as you get in. Don’t wait until you’ve finished your text or whatever. It is not the other person’s duty to greet you first.

Put your fecking phone in your pocket or bag for the first five minutes. The world will not come crashing to a halt if you miss a couple of posts or texts.

Grunting does not count – you need to actually enunciate your words.

Be cheerful – it won’t kill you. God forbid but a smile might also be nice.

Ask the other people how they are. This will get you plenty of brownie points.

If you think you are cute and gorgeous – the world does not owe you one.

Even if you are cute and gorgeous – the world still does not owe you one.

Amazingly enough – you do not know everything. No! Really. You don’t.

Have some respect for those around you. Life is not all on your terms.

At a restaurant – sit up straight and put that fecking phone away. Pretend like you are a grownup and have a conversation in real life. Face to face.

Don’t drop your crap all over the house the minute you come home. Put it in your room or wherever.

Get off your ass and offer to help every now and then. No matter where you are.

Your parental agents do not owe you one, nor are they your slaves. Without them you would not be having this beautiful life experience. Be grateful.

If in doubt refer to Number 1 and put your fecking phone down.

8 simple rules for when the “kids” came home..

Up to the end of 2015, my lovely husband and I had lived mostly alone for the previous 5 years. Apart from the odd visits from children and family of course – a weekend here or a week there. Well, us two, the dog and the cat that is. We ate what we liked, went out when I did not feel like cooking, swapped drinking shitty wine for more decent stuff… were starting to hit an almost level financial footing after divorces, retrenchments, sick dogs, houses that would not sell etc.

My C.V. states that I have two girls (Lauren and Emma) and shares in a son (Luan).

After finishing matric, Luan had a gap year on the farm which extended to two years whilst he decided in which direction he wanted to study – so apart from varsity related obligational visits he had not been back to visit very much. (Luan loves all aspects of farm life with a passion – he’s now studying animal science.)

Emma had been living in Cape Town since 2009, alternatively with her boyfriend and sometimes her father – depending on what the situation was. Lauren, my elder daughter is long since married. Hell – I’m a granny and Isabella is four already. She’s settled and not a problem.

We always knew Luan would be coming to live with us one day – when he finally decided what he wanted to study and started attending University. This was scheduled for early 2016.

Then the shit hit the fan with Emma (aka Igz – whose art features prominently in many of my previous posts). At 25, her life was not really working out perfectly in Cape Town. She’d been giving… wait for it… hula hoop fitness lessons to ladies in the USA via skype for a living. This had worked well for a time but she was experiencing difficulties finding a location to work from, had broken up with her long-time boyfriend a few months previously and was stressed beyond belief. But she had also just met Charl… was starry-eyed and had no plans to leave Cape Town.

Come home, said I in a moment of madness – you can bring Charl with you. (Karma is a bitch I tell you – payback for Emma living with Sean all those years!)

And so it came to pass…

By the beginning of 2016, three 20-something “children” had taken over our house. We live in a complex – three bedrooms, two and a half (thank goodness for that half too) bathrooms, kitchen-lounge-dining room and our sanity-saving lovely biggish under-roof stoep with a lovely braai. Oh… and a double garage – half of which is filled with stuff like lawnmowers, wheelbarrows, spare beds and other stuff from when we had our house in Springs.

I work from home and had already given up my “office” upstairs the previous year when darling Fudges was sick and could not climb the stairs. It just seemed easier to camp in a corner of the lounge. But I soon realised that having a house teeming with people, I’d never get any work done. Eyed out all the vacant spots in the house… not that many. Eventually decided that “sanctuary” be damned – I don’t sleep well at the best of times – I’d relocate to a corner of our bedroom.

Once more my desk was humped up the stairs and stuff was rearranged. Fortunately our room is relatively nice-sized and there is a balcony – I can open the door and have fresh air all day. Of course, I also have all the complex kids screeching and playing and waving at me from outside too.

What a shocker! Somehow it seemed as if there was never enough anything. Two litre bottles of milk disappeared in a wink. Bags of bread got devoured, cheese flew out of the window and worst of all – I had to cook dinner for five freaking people – every single night because who can afford to go out often with so many people? Other meals people had to fend for themselves.

I had to quickly double my dose of Brewer’s Yeast (commonly referred to as my bitch pills) to avoid losing my shit. YES PEOPLE! This stuff really does work.

Let’s not even talk about the internet – Chris had to tootle off and upgrade chop-chop to stop us all from killing each other over gobbled up GB’s.

The first rule we made was that we all eat supper together at night. We eat on the big table on the stoep outside. No excuses. If you are not hungry – you still pitch up and sit at the table. More than a year later this still works well.

The second rule was that the kids (and I use that term loosely) take turns with the washing up. No, we don’t have a dishwasher – there is no space for one.

Next came the kitchen cat. My mom had given me this flat black cat which used to perch on my notice board back in the day when I had a whole room as an office. I was never very sure what to do with it and all too often it would plummet down, narrowly missing decapitating either Fudges or me. That cat got painted with blackboard paint and stuck to a kitchen cupboard.

Rule number three – whenever anybody finished something – they had to write it up on the board so (a) I knew there wasn’t any and did not bank on using it for some or other meal and (b) I could replenish said item. I’d try to remember take a photo of the cat before I went shopping. (Or else there would be a frantic call home to ask what was on the cat?) This also still works well today.

I have discovered that things like tomato sauce and mayo seem to have holes in the bottom of the bottle as well as the top. Such things used to last Chris and myself months and months. In fact I took to buying the smallest possible size because they took forever to finish. Now the stuff swooshed out of the bottle in mere days.

Rule number four was “the drawer”. You know that piss-willy little cheese drawer in the fridge? Well that became MINE. All mine. Anything in there was out of bounds. Nobody was allowed to even think about opening it. At least this ensured that I knew for sure there was something to put on Chris’s sandwiches each morning. Not a task I love much in the first place – and just horrible when I have to forage around looking for stuff.

Rule number five – very important for menopausal sleep-deprived me to stay alive…. I only share wine with the kids on the odd occasion. That rule got a temporarily bent out of shape when my mom landed up being critically ill only three weeks after we had been invaded and I went off to Cape Town for the next three weeks. My lovely husband is very generous and happily shared with the boys each night. Em smokes but does not drink. That’s another thing we had to get used to. Smokers! There is a dedicated smoking bench around the corner – but somehow throwing away cigarette boxes seems to be very challenging and they pile up. This drove us mental in the beginning.

Rule number six was that cheese always gets grated on the second smallest side. Somehow that makes the cheese last much longer. The spare blocks get stashed in MY drawer. No touchie!

Rule number seven – in order to stay sane I had to learn (very fast) not to sweat the small stuff. Who cared if the house was messy. Honestly. Really? Well to begin with I did. Desperately! I was always taking things to rooms and putting things back where they belonged… but then I figured what the hell. When you’ve just finished cleaning the floor and boots stomp dirt all over them… or coffee gets spilled – your first reaction is murder. Then you start thinking – it’s just a bit of dirt. And really – who cares if the toilet roll magically falls off it’s rolling perch downstairs all the time. Seems boys need to wind the bog roll round their hands instead of pulling. (I now just go to our own bathroom upstairs – which NEVER gets invaded.)

Of course, feeding five people instead of two tends to be a shitload more expensive. Chris and I learnt to shop in different places, found that we had to buy quantity instead of quality half the time. In the beginning I also misjudged and made a good few meals where there was barely enough for everybody and definitely no seconds.

On the upside – I have lost all the weight I picked up when my thyroid died (another blog)! Chris is looking much slimmer too these days.

Charl was busy searching for a job. Luan seemed to have more free time than lectures and it felt as though the house was always full of somebody. I think it was only in May – for the first time – that I had an hour of being totally alone in the house. From being alone all day to being constantly surrounded by people – took some getting used to.

To make matters even more interesting, whilst I was away in Cape Town keeping vigil in the hospital with my mom, my darling Fudges started having epileptic fits. These continued until she sadly left us as the end of 2016. Emma also managed to adopt us an extra kitty – that turned out to be not such a kitty after all.

Emma – a creative soul – was going crazy without any space. Eventually she and Chris got stuck into the garage and dug out a hidey hole for her to work in. Charl (a handyman and wannabe plumber by trade) knocked her up some working surfaces and hospice was scoured for packing space bookshelf type things.

Because it tends to hail in the summer – we still like to have space for at least one of the cars in the case of such a storm. (We almost lost my lovely Getz to golf-ball sized hail a few years ago.) This meant that while Ems could stretch out and use the whole half a garage when she needed to – she had to be able to pack it up very quickly if necessary and disappear into her half-a-hidey-hole in the occupied half.

Emma would retire to her dungeon during the day and started creating stuff like her lovely dolls. Body parts littered the house. I’d find bits of faces, arms legs and torso’s stashed in odd places.

Needless to say the electricity usage more than doubled.

Rule number eight – no heaters, no electric blankets… dress warmly instead! Better for the environment anyway!

Charl got a job – well he got several – but he settled down to one after a few months. This meant one less person in the house during the day. Em and I settled into a routine of having coffee and brainstorming each morning before we’d repair off to our various lairs and get stuck into work.

I can bake again and the goodies like cheese straws get snarfed up quicker than it takes to bake them. I really like this. We hardly ever waste anything. Chicken carcasses get recycled into soup. The odd leftovers get gobbled the next day (boys are lazy and the less effort the better). I have become very creative using pasta and mince in a gajillion different ways. Some meals are more appreciated than others. Every now and then we venture out on a Monday evening and take advantage of the Spur special – two burgers for the price of one. Chris braais on the weekends.

To our credit we have not had a single serious blow-up in the entire time – now more than a year.

Luan is a darling and gives up his room on the odd occasions when necessary – for example when his grandparents were on their way to Australia and stayed over for a few days. Or when my mom came to visit over Christmas (although they only overlapped one night because he’d been away with his mother.)

Chris and I are the parentals – but we all respect each other. We have fun. We talk. We laugh. Yes – we also want to kill each other on the odd occasions too.

Best of all I totally adore having my crazy creative daughter on tap. For however long that may be.