(I’m telling you mom – that Thunderdog is lurking up there!)

Feh! It’s that time of year again. I start panting and sidle up close to mom.

What’s wrong Fudges? She gives my ear a scratch. Is it time for your pill already… noooo – I think not.

I give her the nose. Move your legs – I’ll just cozy up here under your desk with you.

She looks at me – but there’s no space my woof. And it’s still sunny outside. The weather is just fine.

Ohhhh… It’s coming, don’t you worry.

I give up trying to squoosh all our legs under her desk.

She’s right, there’s a most inconvenient bar in the way. Was I a tad younger I might have had a go at gnawing it off, but my fangs are not quite as fearsome any longer.

Sure enough, the sky gets all dark and gloomy. Then it starts to rumble and shake – in my head anyway. There is an incredibly brilliant flash… and that Thunderdog bellows in the sky.

Ralph comes skidding into the bedroom – whiskers twitching, eyes wild. He’s not a fan of the Thunderdog either. He scrambles onto mom’s lap. She has to move her chair back – there’s no space for both of them under the desk either.

I scuttle around the bed and dive into my box.

Must say – my box is not too shabby now. In the beginning it was horrible. Mom had put a mat in which I could scrunch into position, but every time I moved the whole box made a lot of noise. Then she got the idea to cover the box with a duvet and put a big fat cushion in it.

Thought it might be a bit hot , but it’s nice and cozy and also a bit soundproofed. Almost as good as being under the bed. Sometimes Ralph intrudes, which is just rude – especially when he claims the fat bit of the cushion.

Edge – the grey kitty who now has a name– does not particularly like the noise either and burrows under Em’s material boxes when he hears the first roar.

Sjoe, says mom. What a bunch of sissies you furries are. Just smell this rain – it’s delicious.

Delicious! My woggley whiskers – now she’s really losing it. Come inside immediately woman and close that balcony door.

She hangs over the railing and catches some raindrops. Then a bolt of lightning cracks nearby and the ferocious growl of that mutt in the sky even makes mom jump.


Back in 1978 at Helderberg College

Saturday mornings we were allowed to “sleep late”. This merely meant nobody checked up whether you were at breakfast or not and there was no roll call during morning worship because… there was no morning worship. This was all well and good – but shite – it was a long time to lunch if you missed breakfast.

Know this would sound really odd to my kids now – knowing that their mother quite frequently goes from supper to supper without eating – but back then – missing a meal was a major deal.

So… what we used to do was appropriate a few slices of brown bread and some cheese on the Friday after supper.

Maybe I should go back to the beginning for those who were not there… at Helderberg College – the kids in the dorms did the work. You had to do x amount hours of work per week. Now, upon reflection, it was slave labour – but after a year at Worcester in the Ladies Seminary – it was heaven.

The girls at Helderberg College did kitchen and laundry duty. To begin with I complained like a stuck pig. Not fair that the boys had the cool jobs – like herding cows and riding around on the truck around campus. I mean who wanted to wash up a gajillion dishes and iron crappy clothes for all the kids in the hostels. Talk about stereotyping.

 Obviously I made enough noise because I was invited into the hallowed male world of truck riding… eeeergh… and they made me do garbage duty. Seriously gross – to this day – I hooch, heave and hold my nose when I have to swop black bags.

So we worked in the kitchen.

They had this cool dishwasher type thing – you stacked dirty plates on a rack and then hosed the hell out of them with a gun that shot serious bursts of water. Then they got shoved through a little house of piping hot water. Bit like a car wash really. Usually only matrics got that cool hosing-off job.

Racks of glasses, warm and steaming, had to be dried. I quite liked that – at least there was no grungy stuff involved. A select few were allowed into the cooler room – this was where the good stuff – like cheese – lurked.

 Really can’t remember the specifics – but suffice to say – we had cheese and brown bread.

On a Saturday morning we’d make toasted cheese. Marlene had an iron, I had an iron. We’d heat them both up. Make a cheese sarmie and clamp it between the two hot irons. Truly, don’t think I have ever tasted anything quite so delicious since then.

Kettles were also the privilege of Matrics – we were in Standard 8 or 9 at that stage. So we’d heat up water in our steam irons – and make lukewarm coffee to swill our sarnies down with. Bliss.

Heaven help us if we’d forgotten to iron our clothes first.


Heads and Beds

(Dog’s Blog 429) As I mentioned the other day – I don’t like my box anymore.

Not sure why… maybe it’s too hot in there. Then again I didn’t like it on a cold night either – so that’s probably not really the reason.

But this proved to be a bit of a problem because mom did a good job of closing up my access to under the bed. Managed to get through that one time, but then she made a different plan and the second time I almost got stuck trying.

She hates it when I have those little tikky fits under the bed and crunch my head into the wood. Drives her demented!

I’m not fond of it either.

Plus it’s Thunderdog season. All my panting and performing when I am scared out of my furry knickers is not a pretty sight.

Heard mom and Alpha murmuring on the bed.

Hmmm….. said Alpha. Right then. Let’s do it.

Looked at mom… Do what?

Never you mind Fudges, she replied, you’ll see soon enough.

They took me for a little trot around the complex and then went off without me.

Came back later with odd stuff. There was a lot of activity and noise. Sawing noise… clacking noise… grinding noise.

Worse than that wretched vacuum cleaner.

Nobody offered to carry me up the stairs so I dragged my own self up and peered into our room.

My woggledy whiskers! Whatever are you doing? Put that bed back at once.

The bed was upside down and all unmade. Alpha and my boy Luan were hovering over it. Mom was smacking it with something. They had all gone completely crazy.

Fled to Luan’s room and checked out his bin to calm my shattered nerves. Sadly there was nothing interesting in it.

Much later the activity ceased and our house returned to normal. Alpha offered to take me upstairs for a look see.

See what? I looked around the place and noticed that my box was gone.

Hey… wait a minute… the boards that mom had stuck to the bed were gone too.

Whoorf hrooof! I prepared to slink under the bed. Chunky chop bones! I did not have to slink so much either.

Turns out they made the bed yet another block higher and put nice thick foam rubber under the base of the bed, so that when I tik and jerk and bump my head – it’s now nice and soft and squishy. Mom shoved my duvet under there as well.

Not too shabby!


Bella Bids Fudgie Farewell

(The final Dog’s Blog #432)

Was barking bored, snoozing outside in the sun because nobody was paying me any attention when I dimly heard a car in the distance.

Somebody’s coming… galloped to the gate and checked out the scenery.

Nothing! Just a couple of moo-dy old cows glaring balefully at me. Then suddenly there was a flurry of activity. People arrived and started unpacking stuff.

Sniffed them… hmmm… never met these humans before. Nope… not even the little one.

Heard another car pull up and bounded back to the gate. Oooh… these are familiar smells… they belong to my friend Fudge.

Mom, Alpha and Grandma!

We all smooched. Then Fudge appeared.

Shame… she looks a bit unsteady on her feet. Maybe the long trip has been a bit much for her. Driving in the car makes me feel horrible too.

We did the little sniffy backside welcome dance thing but Fudge was not as interested as she usually is.

Turned out the little person’s name is also Bella. Was quite confusing, every time someone called “Bella” I obediently presented my own furry butt, only to be told… “Not you dog Bella. Human Bella”.

Later on that evening I accompanied all the humans down to the tennis club. Sadly, there was a nasty little snack there that tried to pick a fight with me and I ended up being sent home. No fair!

Fudge got to stay. She chose a smart spot under the braai and licked up all the chop fat that landed on the floor. Lucky for me Fudge’s mom is a softie and she snuck me a whole chop when nobody was looking.

I’m allowed to sleep inside now – although my humans have gone off to Australia for a bit so I’m still outside. Hope they’ll be back soon – it’s a tad lonely without them.

Slept with Grandma in my humans’ room. Fudge slept next to her mom in their room. Poor thing, she keeps having these weird hic-type things. Don’t think she is feeling very good.

Next day Alpha, Mom and I took the little person for a walk down to the river. Felt bad because Fudgie stayed home with the others – but I never miss a chance to have a swim. Went leaping and flying as soon as I spotted the water.

Oooh! A dip in the river is just soooo delightful. Paddled around chasing my own tail for a bit. Then shook some water on the little person – come on – play with me!

Seems she is not as keen on the water as I am.

The following morning my poor friend Fudge looked even worse. Her mom and Alpha looked really miserable too.

Next thing I knew they all went off in their car. Oi! Hullo! You’ve just arrived. You can’t leave now.

They came back much later, but sneakily parked the car by the orchard. They were both weeping and snicking. I could not see Fudge anywhere. Then they hefted out her duvet and foofled around. Mom came inside the fence and looked around for Fudge’s ball. She took it back to the orchard.

Something was terribly wrong.

I watched whilst they spent a long time in the orchard. Then they got back into the car and drove around to the proper parking place. I dashed up to the gate.

Mom buried her face in my fur… Oh Bella, she wept… my Fudgie is gone.

Alpha’s face was all wet too.

Gave her hand a lick – no worries – I’ll look after you.

I did not leave her side for the next few days.

Note from Mom: 

As you may have read, our darling Fudgie started suffering from epileptic fits in February 2016. Eventually we were advised to put her on meds (Pexion) which she’d been on for about 4 months. In the beginning the pills worked well – but in the last few weeks they had become less effective. Fudge had had a couple of full-on fits in the space of a week and had taken to jerking and tikking a fair amount more than before (hence the foam rubber under the bed). Then she’d have days when she was just fine.

She travelled peacefully to the farm in the Eastern Cape. We were all looking forward to no stairs to worry about and a huge garden, river and veld to play in – albeit it very downscaled playing to what we were used to do.

It was very windy for the first few days and this bothered Fudge greatly (there is no wind in Pretoria!!!). She started flatly refusing to take her pills. No matter what delicious morsel I stashed them – she was not interested. Her condition got worse without them and I had to resort to forcing them down her throat. Something I had never had to do before – not even last year when she was so sick with IMHA and had to take over a thousand pills. She also started drinking copious amount of water and we feared her kidneys might be packing in. She was not sleeping much and every time her eyes closed she would jerk awake. I spent large chunks of the nights sitting on the floor gently stroking her and holding her paw but she was clearly uncomfortable and distressed.

In two days her quality of life severely diminished right before our very eyes and we could see that she was suffering – stoically – in good old Fudgie fashion. This time it did not look as though she was going to rally around as she had done so often before and be okay again.

It was the 23rd of the December and we were out in the boondocks – halfway between Barkley East and Rhodes. There are no vets on tap like there are in the city.

We had to make a tremendously difficult and heartbreaking decision. One that was best for our precious doglet.

Kerneels, Chris’s brother kindly helped us to locate a vet in Aliwal North who was willing to assist. He mentioned that he had to go out – if we missed him we should just wait. We drove for 2 hours and were incredibly lucky to catch the vet just as he was leaving. He agreed that there was no need to cause extra stress and move Fudgie from her comfy spot on the back seat, all snuggled on her pillow and duvet.

He was gentle and quick.

Our hearts shattered into thousands of pieces as we held her whilst she breathed her last.

We took her back home to the farm and buried her in the orchard, next to little Zorro (my mom-in-law’s Pekinese) who had gone to the Rainbow Ridge a month or so earlier.

Fudge, the big-hearted dog with the blog, now has the most fabulous resting place. Her life was a ball.

Thank you all for loving her almost as much as I did.


Many Happy Returns

I am quite sure my father-in-law will kill me for blogging this but it is really too funny not to share…

They had just returned from visiting their daughter in Australia for three months, and would be stopping off in Gauteng for a couple of days before heading back to the farm in the Eastern Cape. Their plane arrived at 04h30 on Monday morning – Chris and I misjudged the length of time that it takes for elderly people to clear customs (very quick) and the poor parentals had to wait for us. They are not exactly spring chickens any longer – having 155 years between them.

The rest of Monday was slow. Naps were had. Not much happened. They realized, now that they were back in South Africa, they were simply busting to get home to the farm. Elise was badly missing her lovely dog Bella too. They decided to leave a day earlier than planned.

The original plan was to sleep two nights with us and one with relatives in Germiston. The new plan involved only one night with us to speed up the process of going home. We understood completely.

Tuesday arrived. The rellies were only going to be home after 16h00. Anybody who has driven between Pretoria and Johannesburg in rush hour knows that our traffic is beyond ghastly on occasions. Lucien and Elise’s plan was to leave our house at 14h45. They would deal with the traffic but hopefully would miss much of it.

Around 13h30 Lucien was sorting out his cell phone to get his navigator up when he realized that the cell battery was on its last legs. Panic stations ensued for a few moments because he knew there was no ways he’d be able to find his way without it.

I said he was welcome to borrow my Garmin – seeing as we all now have navigators on our cell phones it is no longer worth its weight in gold like it used to be. Lucien was not keen because he knew it would be months before we could reclaim it.

Luckily new cell phones have super quick chargers and these days they all fit. Their old cell phone charged quickly on my charger and all was well.

Heavy suitcases were lugged downstairs and Luan helped his grandfather pack the car. On the way out Lucien scooped up assorted bits and pieces. Luckily Luan was helping to stash them in the car and discovered (to his outrage) that his backpack full of new books for varsity was about to illegally venture off to regions unknown.

Amid much giggling and laughter he reclaimed his backpack. Eventually Lucien and Elise managed to leave the complex around 15h00.

My sister from the USA was arriving the following day so I scooped up all the linen to wash. Looked around for the towels… nowhere to be found… Luan confessed to packing them into the car. No worries – I’d get those later.

Emma had run out of her dastardly cigarettes so we jumped into the car and were on the way to the shop when my cell phone rang. It was Lucien. The floozie on the navigator was completely crazy, was taking him the wrong way and kept cutting out. Could he please borrow the Garmin after all? (Did I mention that Lucien can get a bit irate at times?)

Whilst we were speaking I noticed that we had both arrived at the same circle – they were coming from a totally wrong direction. The Garmin was indeed needed. They followed me to the shop but again disappeared in the wrong direction. We finally met up at home a bit later. (And yes – Luan hauled the towels out of the car.)

The Garmin was flat – needed to be plugged into the car lighter before I could programme in the address. This I did – reshuffling cell phones in the process. Meanwhile… our home phone rang and rang – my sister’s number showed up but I missed the call.

By now it was 15h20 and the traffic is hotting up.

Eventually everything was sorted. It was decided that Elise would rather drive and Lucien would navigate. The Garmin was stuck to the window so it would be able to see all the satellites and not cut out. The Garmin floozie knows where she is going – hopefully.

All was well. Once again we waved them good bye and Luan went off to open the complex gate for them.

I decided to send my sister an sms, confirming that I would collect her from the airport the next day. Opened my phone and was confused to find it looked completely different. Turned out the cell phone in my hand belonged to Elise.

I flew out of the house yelling No No No and bumped into Luan returning from the gate – he took off at lightning speed to try and stop them. Luckily they had two cell phones and we could still call one of them.

Many happy returns… they came back to fetch the phone.

The poor parentals then had a horrible drive to Germiston in full-on rush hour traffic. They did reach their destination safely.


Peeping Tom!

Years ago – as in decades and decades-long before I got married – had just bought my first house in Somerset West and was still in the wall-hugging, no-money-for-food stage.

Used to read my book while cycling on my exercise bike for a good few kilometres each night. That particular evening I heard my cat at the window. For whatever reason – instead of drawing back the curtains with a flourish to let Madcat in – I peeked through the side – very carefully.


My heart thudded to a complete standstill. (Probably got lodged in my throat – effectively preventing both heart and throat from operating effectively.) There, kneeling on my very own bedroom windowsill was a large person. Peeping through the tiny vee where the curtains did not quite meet at the top.

Spying on me.

Aaaargh. Scary swine! Opened my jaws to give an almighty holler and, most scary of all, not a single sound escaped.

Tried again. Nada.

Fortunately, by the time I stumbled shaking and shuddering to the phone to summon the police, I had recovered some vocals.

And so began a period of total harassment. The police did a pretty thorough job of harassing me too – ringing the bell in the dead of night to check if I was okay, then asking for coffee seeing as I was (now) awake, leering at me in the doorway.

Making me feel totally uncomfortably insanely mad.

Eventually, I learnt to ignore their bell ringing. Felt safer without their dodgy protection.

Mr Peeping Tom was another story.

A friend of mine was undergoing psychotherapy at the time and happened to mention my predicament. The prognosis was – He’s probably harmless – a nuisance, but harmless. On the other hand – you never know with these people – he might turn nasty and try to get into the house. Take him seriously.

There followed a period of siege.

All the curtains in the house were firmly pegged together as soon as the sun sank from view. With several pegs – just for good measure. And yet still I could hear him scuffling around outside.

Perhaps I should explain, I was a single mom at that time, My daughter was about 3 or so and I was a tad paranoid. I begged the bank for a credit card and invested in some fencing – just diamond mesh – and it was only waist height, not really effective but enclosed the yard, made me feel safer.

Still, he came.

Borrowed a loud hailer from work, switched it to siren mode, tried blasting his ear. To no avail.

Then struck upon a brilliant idea – glued thumb tacks to my window sill, and boot polished them black. Then parked off under the sill on the inside, curtains closed, swilling wine, eagerly awaiting his howls of anguish.

They never came – but the prickles did keep him off the window ledge, for a while anyway.

Guess after a few weeks I was not so scared of him anymore. Just wildly irritated that my peace and privacy had been violated.

On one occasion, found myself charging after him in the dark, yelling like a banshee, brandishing a knife. Possibly may have been writing this from jail, had my neighbour not yelled and brought me to whatever was left of my senses.

Found out later that he was a regular tyrant in the neighbourhood, had been spying on a whole bunch of us females. Eventually, somebody’s significant other caught him and he spent a spell in the chook.

The thing that haunted me for several decades after (ag okay – only three), was the fact that I had been unable to scream in time of need.

A few decades later, was married and we’d moved to Springs in Gauteng.

Just after we’d been robbed of a whole lot of stuff, I’d lie in bed awake,  straining to hear if the f#@&ers were going to try again. One night I did hear something and stealthily snuck to the bathroom without waking the dogs, stood on the loo and peeped out of the top window.

Swine were at it again – trying to break the lock of the outside wendy house.

I opened my mouth and yelled at them.

My lovely husband said that it was a terrifyingly deep throaty yowl and it almost scared the pants off him too.

They ran away.

Stress isn’t always the culprit!

Sometime in 2015 I noticed that my leg hairs had become rather scanty and was terribly impressed with my shorter showers – no more shaving. Having just turned 53 I figured it was a getting-older-thing.

Of course I was not so terribly impressed when a few months later my mother made a comment about how she thought my hair was looking rather “thin”. Wretched woman – was my first reaction. How dare she criticize my lustrous locks!

Except upon closer examination – they were not actually so lustrous anymore. Downright thin and stringy more like it. Amongst all the hustle and bustle of life I had not even noticed the change.

This getting older thing was becoming a bit of bitch!

It had been a long year. A long crappy year. Not one, but two friends, had passed away from the dreaded C and our beloved doglet, Fudge, had been critically ill for months and months. I was then in the final throes of organizing our yearly science centre conference at the University of the North West when “fees must fall” caused us to have to relocate the whole thing to a nearby hotel at the last moment. (Sadly, this very same science centre was burnt down just a few weeks later.)

In addition, I’d started a crowdfunding campaign for Sibo Looks Right – a story book on the topic of road safety – the thirteenth title in the Sibo Series. We’d been trying to find funding for this book for ages to no avail. This turned out to be a tad more work than I’d expected and I was burning the midnight oil trying to drum up backers. Thankfully, due to the incredible generosity of Nash Nissan in Alberton, we hit the tipping mark a few days after our campaign began which alleviated a lot of the stress attached to crowdfunding campaigns.

We’d also had a series of visitors, one after the other. To say I had been busy was not really too much of an overstatement.

My legs constantly ached and felt rag-dollish half the time. Could not sleep at night but fell asleep at my desk at ten o’clock in the morning. My mouth was dry and my tongue constantly stuck to my teeth. My lips and face tingled. My hand cramped around the mouse and it was just plain exhausting to type. I had headaches galore and was constantly freezing cold. My skin was scaly (but it’s dry in Pretoria I reasoned) and half the time I could not breathe properly (but then again, I’ve always been short of iron).

Could not remember anything without writing it down and had a hard time ploughing through the millions of things that needed to be done. Most vexing of all was that I seemed to be picking up weight, despite my daily hula hooping and not eating any differently than I had previously.

Totally stressed out was my verdict.

It would all go away once the conference was over. Or maybe menopause had hit with a vengeance…

To add to my woes, my ears started ringing. Constantly. Figured I had low-grade flu on top of it all. Clearly my resistance was low and I was attracting whatever wretched bugs were hovering around the place.

Mostly, the world seemed a distant, hazy place.

Life plodded on – I hauled out my big girl pantaloons and royally sucked it up.

Drove the four hours to Mafikeng in a fuggy haze and the conference passed in a blur.

Two weeks later I was still feeling beyond horrible and the constant ringing in my ears was driving me demented. Reckoned the conference stress should have abated somewhat and started googling to see which dreaded lurgy matched my symptoms.

Of course… if you aren’t dying before you begin to Google, you soon will be once you start!

Seeing a photo of a mug with the words “Don’t confuse your internet search with my medical degree.” on Face Book brought me up short.

It’s commonly known in my family that I simply don’t do doctors, so the news that I had booked my own self an appointment came as a bit of a shock.

She’s nice, my doctor. Well, technically I suppose she is Chris’s doctor because he goes to her a lot more. She paints beautifully and we started chatting. The highlight of the visit was when, upon hearing that I write kids’ books, she promptly ordered a whole set of Sibo for her waiting room. I’d never thought of doctor’s rooms as being a market for Sibo – but why not – there are titles on HIV AIDS, malaria, nanotechnology and chemistry in addition to all the global warming save the world stories.

She pricked and prodded and diplomatically suggested I was long overdue for all sorts of other tests. I was to return on the following Tuesday morning to receive blood test results and find out what the problem was.

We’d had a long-standing arrangement to go to Cape Town that weekend. My poor mother was further shocked at the appearance of her younger daughter. (Funny how when you see yourself in the mirror each day you don’t really notice how progressively crap you are starting to look until somebody gasps with horror and asks what’s wrong with you?)

I was too tired to walk the length of the Strand Beach – frustrating for both Chris and myself because, living in Gauteng, we miss the sea.

When I got to the doctor on the Tuesday morning she greeted me with… “Oh – we actually found out what was wrong with you on Friday already – but reckoned you would not die in another three days!

Turned out I had a raging case of hypothyroidism.

As in… it was not functioning at all. Burnt out. Kaput!

Who knew that, through the hormones it produces, the thyroid gland influences almost all of the metabolic processes in one’s body.

No wonder I had been feeling so disgusting!

As a result of this I also had a case of horrendously high cholesterol. (Which probably would have been even higher was it not for my love of red wine.)

We were all a tad relieved that it was only a misbehaving thyroid and nothing more serious. Pills were the order of the day. In fact, it would be more correct to say that pills would be keeping my life in order from now on. It took a month for me to just start feeling human again – and for my cholesterol to plummet back down to its normal count. Thankfully I could chuck those cholesterol pills because the side effects were just nasty.

I’m wildly grateful that the dose I’m on seems to work for me. Have since discovered there’s a whole world of (mostly) women out there who have this problem. Having always been inordinately healthy, sometimes it’s rather scary to realise that life as I know it depends on a box of little white pills that cost the princely sum of R48 a month.

It took a whole year for my hair to recover and a good couple of months to lose that awful turkey neck (where it looks like your chin goes straight to your breast bone). I now have the lovely curse of hairy legs again too!

For my sins – I have to go to the doctor every six months to get my prescription renewed. Without it, I probably would not last long.

I feel fabulous most of the time.

The point of this saga?

Do not always blame things on stress!

A tart named Irene

Funny how sometimes things all mush together in your head and turn up in dreams.

This how it probably happened…

A few weeks ago an old school-friend of mine had posted on Facebook that she had been busted at the bus station bopping along to that old song – “Come on Eileen”. Not really surprising because it’s a song we all used to bop to back in the day.

In addition, the book I was reading involved husbands cheating on wives.

That night I dreamed my lovely husband cheated on me with somebody called Irene. (Okay – so not quite Eileen but damn close hey?) In my dream I was totally traumatized because (a) he did not introduce me to her whilst we were at some or other function and (b) he handed her a bag containing chocolates with a sappy note (not sure how I determined this in my dream but I did). I realized with a jolt that something more was going on with this woman named Irene than just work.  She lurked in the same university and they saw each other often.

Of course when I woke up I was obviously very the hell in with my not-so-lovely husband. I thumped his arm and had a go at him for cheating on me.

Needless to say he was a tad confused.

But Gin, he pleaded, I don’t even know anybody called Irene! You are being totally ridiculous.

Later that morning we were having breakfast and I was still snippy. Emma (aka Igz) asked me what was wrong. My getting-more-unlovely-by-the-minute husband burst out laughing and told her I was miffed with him because of a silly dream.

Emma – who is often (but not always as it turns out) firmly on my side in this house full of men, was totally incredulous that I could blame Chris for something that I had dreamed.

A hilarious breakfast ensued, with me being thoroughly ridiculed from all sides.

Later that morning Chris and I were going shopping. He was in full professor-thought-mode and took off in a rather bizarre direction. In true wifely style I mouthed off that he was driving totally wrong and it would take us much longer to get there blah blah blah.

He looked at me and said with a straight face… “Irene would never talk to me like that!”

We both cracked up laughing.

Today is my lovely husband’s 51st birthday. Emma handed over her gift this morning and remarked that there was also a caramel tart named Irene waiting in the fridge for him.

I’m never going to live this down.


A few months ago I wrote a blog called “A tart named Irene”. Basically I had a dream that my husband had a floozie on the side and the results of this caused much hilarity in our household.

But in fact my lovely husband really does have a tart. A tart of note! A Stirling Tart!

Not only is she one frosty bitch, but she’s got bad colour sense, is gaudy, bulky, overweight, not to mention incredibly demanding.

She has no qualms when it comes to sending him messages whenever the need arises. No matter what time. On a couple of occasions he has even leapt out of bed in the middle of the night and gone rushing off to her aid.

How do you stand it? I hear you all gasp. 

What a pig! What a terrible husband! How can you possibly call him lovely?

Well… dear reader, my husband is a physicist and his tart is a liquid nitrogen machine which feeds his other floozie, the MBE (molecular beam epitaxy – an epitaxy method for thin-film deposition of single crystals) a couple of floors below. If you want to know exactly what this is and does – here you go!

This MBE is the first machine of its kind in Africa and uses a lot of liquid nitrogen. It made sense to manufacture their own stuff instead of buying it… hence needing the tart in the first place. Chris et al have been trying to get the system up and running smoothly for over a year now. The whole shebang has been fraught on many different levels and has caused a fair amount of heartache to, not only my lovely husband, but also to the company that supplied the tart. (Ton tells us that this particular set-up is apparently the most complicated and challenging system that exists world-wide and they are determined to make it work properly.)

A variety of dudes have been dispatched to come and fix a selection of problems and eventually, as I mentioned in a previous blog, they sent their expert, Ton, to come and rectify the situation. Even this took a couple of goes, needing two visits. Much innovative hustling and bustling went on to determine exactly where the problem lay.

At some stage, fancy software was installed on said tart, enabling Chris (and various other dudes) to monitor the readings on the info panels housed on the equipment.

And let me tell you… these get checked and gazed at with monotonous regularity.

In fact, the info gets logged and my fanatical man diligently plots graphs too. I have a sneaky feeling this makes him adore his tart even more, because he is a graphoholic! See… the graph even looks like a heart.

On Saturday night, preciously one hour after Ton had boarded his plane and was in the process of winging his way back to The Netherlands, that wretched tart sent out an sms, which necessitated a visit to the University in the dead of night – to toggle a switch manually.

I glared at Chris with exasperation… Seriously? Again? I thought it was fixed!

He mumbled something about the machine working really well and that I could stay home – but how could I possibly miss the opportunity to go and snap some romantic rooftop photos of the Hatfield lights in the middle of the night.

That calculating tart was even more glittering than usual. Ton, to avoid dying of boredom, had lovingly polished her tank whilst waiting for gas levels to rise and various other things to stabilize.

Am hoping that the allure of this needy wench will eventually diminish at some stage, but in the meantime, I’ll have to accept that we are now a threesome!

PS – this was one of those “almost middle of the night visits”… please note my man has his slippers on – with some sexy blue booties over! (This is the MBE – it’s a “clean-room environment” and I elected to stay outside.)

Here is the Stirling Tart in all her glory! (This was before she got polished.)

By the way – this machine is now working really well – all work lovingly bestowed on this needy bitch has paid off. Ton really did a sterling job!

She is producing plenty of that chilly liquid.