Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Death By Numbers

On Tuesday, last week, when we arrived home from our weekend in Salt Rock, Sheila asked if we knew the man next door had died. She indicated with her head which neighbour. It was not the old man next door and although it would have been a shock if he had died, it would have been less shocking, because although he is a fit old man, he is old. The neighbour who died is 52, but has a son of about 11 and a wife who is much younger than him.

Image Source

We know of so many people who have died this year. The first person who died was a customer of Mark's who moved down to the Wilderness to be with his children. He "retired" although he was quite old. He was only down there for a couple of months and then died beginning of January. He had kidney problems, I think. Then a couple of days later a "friend" of Marks from when he was at school had a heart attack and died. Mark went to the funeral in Pietersburg, apparently he also has two very young girls. Chad and I will never let Mark live it down, because he unfriended the guy on Facebook, because he was openly racist and apparently posted really bad things on Facebook and Mark did not want to be associated with racist things/people, but then went to the funeral. Turns out his Gardener, a black man, was one of the pall bearers, they were very close. Stranger than fiction.

They always say death comes in threes and after hearing about those two deaths, I had a strong feeling that someone close to me would die and Pluto suddenly collapsed and died on the 21 January. That was three deaths in one month. The superstitious three.

A few months later, we heard that the old man from the unit next door was found dead in his car down the road from work. He had a heart attack. Felt strange, pulled over, must have phoned someone and then got back in the car and died. Fortunately, he had the foresight to pull over and not carry on driving causing more fatalities.We didn't really know him other than that he was a miserable person, him and his daughter who owns the business. All they do is complain all day about petty things and if one of our customer's park in their parking bays, they verbally attack the person and then send rude emails to our landlord, so no loss, shock or concern there for us.

About a month ago another customer of Marks died of a heart attack or heart failure. He did have heart problems and was about 60, I would say, but also may have looked older than he was. They woke up in the morning, the wife went to make tea, brought him his tea and found him dead in bed.

Another customer, who has been a customer since almost day one of Mark opening his business, has been having renal dialysis for almost as long as what we have known him for, he phoned Mark a couple of months ago and said he had a stroke and then phoned the week before last and said his wife died. They were old and had retired years ago. The wife had a hip op and then died of some heart condition. So if we added the man from the unit next door that would have made the superstitious threesome.

Then it was the man next door, so scratch the work neighbour out, because he was nothing, but a massive thorn in our side and there is the next superstitious threesome. That was not to be so. On Thursday morning, Mark heard that his sister's friend died during the early hours of the morning. She was 42, had flu or bronchitis, she went to bed, her 14 year old daughter found her unconscious, ambulance took her to hospital and she died.

Mark and I have become hypochondriacs since hearing about all these deaths (ok we were before, but even more so now), especially Mark. Chad told him the other night that he needs to get his sh$t together, Mark thought he meant his insurance policies and money, but he meant dieting and exercising and all his stressing and shouting at the staff when they mess up. It did get us talking and thinking, that we do have to get our sh$t together. If Mark and I had to die together, which is a huge possibility in a country with such a high road death rate as ours, what would Chad do, he may be 18, but dealing with the red tape of death is very overwhelming, necessary, but overwhelming. If Chad was left on his own, he would not know where to start. Mark said I need to get a file together with our policies and wills and who to call etc and put it in a safe place. It seems ominous, but death is a  reality, we know that. One day you wake up not knowing that your life will be destroyed forever. When I mentioned it to Chad, he said "good idea - I would just phone Dean" {family friend}. This has obviously crossed Chad's mind, that he has thought of who he would phone. He also knows that Dean would be there for him and would do whatever was needed, even if we don't see him often, he would be Chad's choice to call. He would know what to do to help Chad and he would willingly help Chad and do everything needed to do, but making it easier and less complicated with everything in one place would make it less stressful.

Whilst discussing this, Mark realised that if I had to die, he would not know where to start either. I still have some sort of an idea where everything is, obviously, the business would have to be closed down and I would not even attempt to try and carry on without Mark, because he is hands on. He can't even leave it for a day and some drama happens. If his customers don't get to speak to him, they carry on like he ran away with their cars. To finish up all the work and tie up lose ends will be a very stressful nightmare. The one good thing about not being married, I could just shrug my shoulders and walk away, no one would have a claim on me. What Mark never realised and what I also did not think of is that I have passwords to everything. All of our emails; our server; our e-filing and everything for work. I don't even think he would be able to think of what the passwords could be. I used to have a set of passwords for his stuff and a set for my stuff, but since password security has had to become so strong, the passwords I have, I can't even think of when I have forgotten them... and I do often. I do have them saved somewhere for when I forget, but no one knows where they are except me and I would literally take them with to my grave. Mark said he would not know where to start with taxes etc, that part is easy, dump everything in a box and hand it to our Accounting firm and they will do it all - they will be able to just sort out the mess and do it. It is the rest that is not as easy.

Mark has lots of policies, so I know where to start with that, but he does not even know what policies I have. I don't even know if I have beneficiaries on my one, which I am busy sorting out. We decided I should get another one, in case something happens to me and Chad is still at school or studying. At my age it is becoming quite a nightmare to get one. Mark also wants to get a policy to cover Chad's car. Although it was not brand new out the box, it was very expensive and he had to finance it. Contrary to Chad's belief that Mark has a secret bank account somewhere with loads of money in it, he does have savings, but not enough to pay cash for a pre-owned, but rather expensive car. There is also death taxes, that you have to pay and would Mark's Estate cover death taxes. We found out about death taxes from the old man next door, when his wife died two weeks before Clint. When the old man found out how much he had to pay in death taxes, he decided to rather enjoy his money whilst alive.

Seriously not a nice topic to discuss and face, but a reality and we do have to sort out our sh$t and not leave Chad with even more stress, even though that was not the sh$t Chad was referring to, it did get us thinking. After all Cholesterol is the silent killer and how silent is it, when Mark and I both know we have high cholesterol. I have at least tried to change my eating habits and tried to be a bit more healthy, but went on such a bender this weekend and last weekend, eating cupcakes, burgers; sweets and bread. I am feeling it now and yesterday I was so out of breath and felt really awful.

I have told Mark that I do not want a funeral and he was all like imagine what people will think and I said imagine what I will think, besides when have I ever cared what people think. They can do a cremation in the cheapest coffin and Chad can take my funeral policy and blow it on whatever makes him happy; definitely not on food and drinks for other people. We also have this joke that when people say to him, Dianne would want you to be happy, he must know that I am standing there glaring at him saying I do not want you to be happy. Anyway I have that covered, if I die before Spike, if Mark meets someone else he will have to get rid of Spike. I cannot even sit next to Mark and Spike growls under his breath and pushes between us and I am next in the chain of command in Spike's life, so good luck to anyone trying to take my place.

Spike In His Rightful Place - Or So He Thinks

Talking about funerals and condolences, after Sheila told me our neighbour died, I phoned the wife, because phoning to give your condolences is just the right thing to do or is it. That was the weirdest conversation ever. A quick whatsapp message saying "hey heard your husband died - hope you ok" would have felt more appropriate. She did say he had a heart attack at home on the Thursday morning, apparently had one two weeks before. I asked how her little boy was doing, knowing he is not much older than what Chad was when Clint died and she said sad, very sad. Not to turn this into an English lesson, but honestly, sad is not a word I would use. Clint died 8 years ago and I am not sad about his death even now, Chad was not sad at the age of almost 10. We are heart broken, shocked devastated, but not sad. Sad is when an old man like Mark's grandfather dies, who was old and bed ridden, it was sad that his life came to an end as it should. The father of an 11 year old boy having a fatal heart attack - even Chad said "sad, that is strange" Then the funeral apparently was quite big, cars all over the road. Chad said it sounded like a kid's birthday party. Most of the cars left at 4 and then it became quite a get together in the freezing cold in their Gazebo at the back of the garden until late at night, after 10 at least. I know everyone grieves differently, but all I wanted was for people to leave when it was Clint's funeral. Chad, Mark and I just wanted to be on our own and not have Clint's funeral become the family gathering of get togethers.

And that is the reason why I do not want a funeral... Out of all these deaths, although there has been a lesson to us, to get our stuff in order, the only death that affected me, that broke my already shattered heart was my little Pluto's death. Yes I am more than sad, I am heartbroken and I miss my little dog.

Rest In Peace Pluto, run free with your Clinty.

My Very Special Pluto

Death is not nice, it is a subject that we don't like discussing, especially with our children, but we learnt the very hard way that it is a reality. It is a reality that you don't die of old age, the way the cycle of life is supposed to work. As ominous as what this all sounds it is a reality and I have a feeling this is not the last of the deaths we will be hearing about in the next few weeks. I also have this fear that getting our stuff in order may be a premonition, but we have to overlook it being a premonition and just get it all done and sorted.

Now hopefully Mark and I don't procrastinate about getting everything in order and just get it done and keep it up to date.

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Sea Sand and Sunshine

Last week Tuesday was Youth Day so we closed on Monday and made a long weekend of it. Mark never usually closes on a workday, but it was quiet at work so the staff had a long weekend as well. We went down to Salt Rock on the KZN North Coast. We left at around 13.30 on Friday afternoon. We were meant to leave at 11.30, but Chad was at gym and so we had to wait for him. In his defence, he asked me what time we would be leaving and I told him that Mark wanted to leave at 11.30, but there was no way we would get to leave work before one. How wrong was I, I left at 11 and Mark at 12 and then we sat waiting for Chad.

We stayed in an apartment right on the beach. We had stayed there previously and falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the Ocean is the best thing in the world. The letting agent never returned my calls or emails to confirm that she had received our payment and to make arrangements to collect the keys and I was worried that we would have a problem. Mark phoned her on the Thursday and she answered his call and arranged that we collect the key at the Shell Petrol Station. She is the epitome of coastal living business attitude and I don't know why we use her. When we arrived at the Shell at around 7.30pm, there were no keys for us and nothing written in the book. The Shell Service Station seems to be the collection and drop off centre for most of the letting agents. Mark came to the car to ask me whose name the booking was under (I was squashed at the back of the BMW, so did not get out the car). I was about to call the letting agent, when Mark happened to see an envelope lying on the counter next to the Cashier Window, with "Mark" scrawled across it. They were our keys luckily.

We bought Pizza for supper (yes my diet flew out the door and has vanished since eating piles and piles of sweets on the way down, resulting in a broken tooth and healthy eating a distant memory). We arrived at the apartment and can you believe it, over a long weekend or long weekend for most people, we were the only people staying in the 12 unit complex and we were the only ones staying there for the whole weekend. I believe the stairs are the reason for an abandoned complex right on the beach. Walking up and down those stairs is a killer - add luggage and shopping and it is no picnic. I am happy to note that the last time we stayed there was in 2012, I was a heavy smoker and this time I can honestly say that I felt the benefits of giving up smoking, because I walked up and down those stairs in fairly high {new} boots and managed with not that much huffing and puffing like I did previously.

To The Beach

To The Pool Above Our Roof

Past The Pool To The Car Park

The photo below was what we woke up to each morning, courtesy of photographer Mark {inside joke}. Mark woke up early, never mind that it was Saturday and we should be sleeping late and took this photo and shared his view with everyone on whatsapp and Facebook, me included, at some unearthly hour. He could not understand why I found the view of the back of my eyelids more pleasurable than the view of the sun rising over the ocean.

We had breakfast on the balcony watching the Ocean and saw fishing boats and lots of dolphins playing behind the breakers. Mark then went to look for a place to fix the cars windscreen. We were not even out of Johannesburg when a car hit a stone up on the windscreen and chipped it. We also had to spend most of the morning waiting for someone to come and fix the shower in the bathroom. The whole pipe was broken and although the apartment had two bathrooms, the other shower was over the bath. You would think that the units were checked before being let out.

We went for a walk on the beach and Mark saw a bird being washed up and down by the waves and he went to rescue it. The poor thing was busy drowning.

Mark picked up the bird and it was so waterlogged and stunned, it did not even try and bite him or fight him. He carried it to the dry grassy dunes and then began the task of finding some bird rescue place to help the poor little thing.

We tried the local SPCA about four different phone numbers all went to voice mail. The Flag Farm came up when we Googled Wild Bird Rescue Ballito. We were left holding for over 10 minutes after speaking to two people and so we gave up. Chad went to get the bird some bread, the only thing we had in the apartment besides egg and bacon - we hadn't been shopping yet.

The bird tried to stand up and flap it's wings, but was so wobbly, it tried to eat and then just lay down. We left and went back to the apartment, quite disheartened that we could not find a bird rescue and rehabilitation centre for wild birds. We were sitting in the apartment waiting for the handyman/plumber to get back with the parts to fix the shower and Mark said that I must Google WildLife Rescue places in Durban. I found this article about a lady by the name of Karen who rescues wild animals, like monkeys and birds and bats etc in Ballito. There was a mobile number, which I called and it went to voicemail. I left a message with very little hope that I would get a call back. I had just put down the phone and my phone rang it was Karen.

She was busy having an eye test at the optometrist when I called and she asked if we could cover it with an old towel and bring it to the apartment. The only towels we had were the towels we brought with to use. I said I would go and see if the bird was still where we left it. We had not thought the whole thing through, she could have come all the way there and the bird had flown off. It hadn't. Mark and I walked down and we I thought it was dead. Mark touched it and it got up wobbled and lay down again. We knew it was going nowhere. I phoned Karin and it was not long when she arrived with a crate and took the bird. She said she would feed it sardines and take it to Ushaka Marine World the next day. I think she said it was a Cormorant, it was a seabird with web feet. She also said it was young, but in good condition and sometimes they just get thrown around by the current and get very tired. Mark said I should have phoned her to see how the bird was, but I didn't incase it had died and I didn't want to know and also she may have felt bad that the bird died on her watch, She also told us that the article on her had been done 2 weeks ago - she really lived up to her reputation of saving wildlife.

After our bird rescuing adventure we went shopping and then had a braai {barbeque} out on the patio. On Sunday morning, Mark was awake early again and we sat and had breakfast on the patio again. It was so lovely and warm compared to at home. Again we saw dolphins playing behind the breakers.

We sat around relaxing and then we went to the Milk Cafe in Ballito for waffles and Milkshakes. So many restaurants in Ballito have changed names or closed down. The Milk Cafe although authentic and quirky has really gone down. The waffles I make taste so much better than theirs and even look better. Mark ordered something off the menu and unfortunately their blender was broken so nothing on the menu that required a blender could be ordered. The Milkshakes came in these quirky bottles and pets are allowed and even have items on the menu for pets. The long wait {and it was a very long wait} was not worth it as the milkshakes and waffles were not good at all.

After the Milk Cafe we went to visit my parents to see the cottage that they had just moved to. Then we all went out to Dinner at The Upper Deck a new restaurant that was previously called Crawdaddy. Mark was not having the best of luck with restaurants. Two things he chose to eat they did not have on the menu - they were changing their menu. The food was really way below standard not nice at all. We were having a lovely weekend, but our eating out was proving to be disastrous.

Our Apartment - Middle Balcony - Balcony Above Is The Pool

On Monday, we spent the morning at the beach and Mark and I even swam in the sea. It was so lovely. Mark was in for ages and then called me in. We stayed in for quite sometime, but then it started getting rough and the salt was burning my eyes, so we left. We went home, changed and went to Mozambik for lunch. Mozambik did not disappoint - their food and service was great and well worth the late lunch.

On Monday night we had another braai at the apartment and on Tuesday morning we reluctantly left to come home to an icy cold Johannesburg envious of our coastal counterparts and their warm town. The fact that KZN has a water shortage ended our envy somewhat and although we had no water cuts whilst down there, it was evident by the bottles of emergency water left in the apartment, that the water could be cut off at any time. Having no water does not equal paradise for me. We did have a lovely weekend though and leaving was easier when the clouds looked dark and heavy on the day we left after a really lovely mid year mini break.

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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Blogger Sabbatical - AWOL From Life

Okay you got me there, my blog is not a professional blog and neither am I a professional, so not really a Sabbatical from blogging, but definitely AWOL from life. Thank you for the concern from those that sent messages and emails to see if I am OK. My battery went flat one Saturday and I had no energy to recharge it - oh and my phone battery also went flat and I never charged it and just left it flat for a week. I took a break from life for a week and a break from my phone and online life as well. I spent a week at home and recharged my battery (internal) and it took me a bit longer to charge my phone battery. We eventually decided that before people start thinking that Mark had murdered me and buried me in a shallow grave at the bottom of the garden [he was telling whoever asked that I will probably switch my phone on/be back at work tomorrow, Wednesday, Friday I am sure Monday], I should switch on my phone and reply to messages. Chad said I should take a photo holding the newspaper with that day's date so they knew it was really me on my phone and not Mark pretending it was me :D.

Well the break was good and we decided I realised that waking up at 4.45 every morning was not only ridiculous but also pathetic and stupid and Mark decided that it is not necessary for me to start work until 8.30 or 9 and leave at 3 or 4. I no longer fetch Chad from school and drive him up and down to gym which took about 3 hours a day, so instead of going back to work at 3 or 4 and leaving at 5.30, I leave at 4. Last night we were joking about how I must miss disappearing everyday for hours and Mark said you know you only have to get to work at 9, I replied that I got to work at 9.15, [that day] to which he replied "Gee was it so late" So today I got to work at 10 - he noticed, then half an hour later went shopping.

Then there has been the matter of Chad passing his driver's licence, which made going AWOL for a week so much easier. The other day I said to Mark - "hey we have a son did you know that, because I forgot". I didn't really forget, but it is crazy not having to drive him around. He even gets up before me in the mornings - he leaves at 6.30 to avoid traffic. All those years of me nagging to get him out of bed so that I did not sit in traffic - all forgotten. Leaving at 6.30 is a bit early, but he does. He picks up a friend on the way - who is also cool with leaving so early. I have no idea of what is going on in his life. The other day I thought I should make him his chicken rice and veg for school, so rushed off to buy the stuff and cook for him, never mind that he is 18, does cooking at school and has a car and driver's licence and loads of time to drive to the shops to buy the stuff. I digress - so I cook his food like a loving mom does and he says "Mom you do know that I am not going to school tomorrow" "No I don't, why aren't you?" It does make sense that he arranged with the exhaust place to take his car in for a freeflow something exhaust the next day. Mark is telling the exhaust guy that he will be at school in the morning and telling me that Chad isn't going to school the next day - much confusion. It turns out exams where starting and it was study leave. How would I know - my brain only barely absorbs the ridiculously boring  informative newsletters from school. I miss our chats in the car when I fetched him from school and drove him around. Put a surly grumpy teenager  loving son and an equally surly and grumpy  loving mom in the car and we have no option but to talk about mundane things like school and exams.

I miss those days and now I say Chad where you going and he says I don't know - track me. [He hates that I can track his every last movement and speed and braking]. The first few days I tracked every minute of his day and he was in big trouble for speeding. Like I said before he has his dad's DNA coursing  speeding through his veins and it was not 100 in a 80 zone, it was an unmentionable speed. He received his first and final warning from Mark with a do what I say and not what I do threat. Tracking him became too stressful, because it records harsh braking and apparently if you just touch the brakes it comes up as harsh braking - according to the giver of speeding DNA. I would see harsh braking and then nothing and then think it is a crash. Now I do random checks. More of his driving and car in another blog, except he drove us to dinner the Saturday before last and to Parkers Comedy Club at Silver Star Casino this past Saturday and the confidence from learner to driver is astonishing. My son has, I must say, become the Shooter King, but the good thing is that it is only when he is with us and keys get given to Mark as we arrive. Mark no longer drinks so is the automatic designated driver. He has one and it's enough.

Chad and His Shooter Menu

It was the first time we have ever been to Parkers and it was awesome. I think Chad was looking forward to going to Parkers when he turned 18, as much as getting his licence [Not as much, but a close second]. He loves almost all the Comedians, but all the ones he loves are no under 18's, which is why in my opinion, as much as I love most of the South African Comedians, Barry Hilton and Trevor Noah are the best, because they are funny without all the cursing and swearing. The line up was great though.

Our bathrooms are a work in progress, but we are using them and the old ugly ones are long forgotten. We need to put in a sliding mirror door, because ours is so small [our bathroom that is], but we had to paint our room first. Business is very quiet at the moment, plus we went way over budget on the bathrooms so we are slowly filling up the financial coffers before we carry on.

A Glimpse At My New Bath

Winter hit hard and I am struggling to eat healthy foods and we have been having curries and rice and roti and stodge and I have been battling to resist. During my MIA week, I hardly ate and Mark went on about how much weight I had lost and even made more holes in my one belt. So basking in the glow of compliments and perceived skinniness I went to buy new jeans today and boy, there is nothing like a clothing store's fitting rooms to hit you in the chubby cheeks, giving you a wake up call to reality, slapping your fat wobbly rolls with the truth. I am sure they would sell more clothes if they put fewer mirrors in the cubicles and took away the harsh lights. I don't know how I will manage this Winter eating less stodge, but I have to and I have to exercise. When you are young your weight can yoyo without exercise (well I could), but not as you get older. [PS I am not even almost thin let alone skinny].

The other reason why I have not blogged is because we have decided to be more "in the present" than online. My laptop is so slow that one post can take the whole day - this has taken about two hours [add another hour today {Thursday} editing and adding photos]. I desperately need a new laptop. My keyboard is bare except for QWZX and some days I type an O instead of an I 100 x before getting it right and sometimes I don't get it right. I have also read blogs sporadically, because my email notifications from bloggers no longer work. If a post shows up on my phone on Google Cards I get to read blogs, otherwise I have missed so much.

We are going away for the weekend - and I am stressing because the booking agency has not gotten back to me to confirm receipt of payment and collection of keys and has not answered my calls or emails. We have used her twice before, but who knows with these small coastal town people. Sorry no offence if you are from a small coastal town, but we have been burnt badly in the past [in that very town]. Why does everything have to be so stressful.

Way past my bedtime - look at Garfield, found a new bed, my lovely white hand towels and before that my handbag.

Garfield Sleeping on My Hand Towels
Garfield In My Handbag

Excuse all the errors I am NOT going back to check for the millions of mistakes.
I felt like I should have a thick red marker and go all teacher cray cray on all the typos; grammatical errors and plain and simple dumb errors - most fixed now {Thursday}

Ok no photos, because my computer has frozen - and I can't wait an hour to sort it out, Who knows this might not even publish.
Uploaded a couple of unedited photos now {Thursday}

Good night

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