Sunday, 6 March 2016

Ants - Drought - Plants - Life

On Tuesday morning, I went to the nursery to buy seedlings for Clint's Memorial Garden. I always go to the same Nursery. I love walking around the nursery. The pretty colours, the lovely smells and the relative silence, what is not to love. It also saddens me because I shouldn't be buying flowers and plants for Clint unless it was for his own home and garden and that is never going to happen. The joy of plants mixed with the tears of grief. The nursery that I go to is always full of rows and rows of seedlings all bright and pretty, but on Tuesday, it looked bare and bereft, much like my life I guess. Nevertheless, I was trying to figure out if I left the buying of seedlings until too late and then it hit me - the drought!!!. The drought and heatwave had no doubt affected the nurseries as well. Many of the seedlings and plants looked dry and some even looked dead. I took what I could and bought packets of seeds and compost and potting soil.

Our gardener is on a mission to grow plants from seeds. I did not know this, but marigolds don't die off. The regrow if that is a word or a thing. Clint used to be allergic to Marigolds yet he loved them, which is how we discovered he was allergic to them. He loved picking them when he was little and had a terrible allergic reaction to them once so Marigolds have never been big on my list of plants I love. We bought some to plant in the front garden last year. Mark probably chose them and now we just have this yellow bed of Marigolds. The gardener told me I will never have to buy another plant like that. Yay! I don't really like them - then he explained that they regrow. The old man next door has these pretty flowers on his pavement that never die - they are always there. I think they may be Zinnias, but I can't find them anywhere. I bought some seeds a few weeks ago, which the gardener planted and I thought they were the same as the plants from next door, but they are not. I asked the gardener if the old man's plants also regrow and he said yes. I asked him  to try and get seeds from the plants to plant in our garden, but not to let the old man see. He did and he planted them in Clint's garden and they are starting to grow. Chad thinks it is hilarious that I am worried that the old man will find out that I stole some of the seeds from his plants. He thinks it is even funnier that I think it is stealing. I think the gardener may also think I am whacked, but indulges me in my craziness and whispers when he talks about Madala's (elder/old man in Xhosa or Zulu) plants. Our gardener also showed me that in Clint's garden, out of nowhere, one of Madala's plants is growing and it is fully grown and no one planted it there from "stolen" seeds.

Madala's Plants Growing Randomly

Back to the nursery - I was so shocked when I paid for the plants and they came up to over R680.00 for a couple of trays. The photo below is of the plants I bought on Tuesday. Minus the two trays of Wheatgrass. I saw the wheatgrass and bought them when I stopped at Checkers to buy Kitchen Cleaner on the way back from the Nursery. The drought has had a profound effect on the cost of living. I was really shocked at the price of the plants. However, Clint's garden looks all pretty and no longer derelict like it did last year when the ants ate all the plants we had just bought.

On the subject of ants, our house is covered in ants. It is like they come out of the floors and walls. I have had to throw away two packets of cat food because they got into Garfield's food in the cupboard that I forgot to zip closed. The ants love cat food and always get into her bowl, so she has an ant bowl, but if we forget to fill it with water, they get in her food bowl. Getting into her bag of food was too much. Luckily I only buy small 1 kg bags of food, because she doesn't eat her food if it is "stale". Stale according to her. She certainly will not eat ant infested food. The other day I picked up the dog's bowls to give them their Chicken Liver and Rice concoction I make and the bowls were alive with ants. Mark left Biltong in a packet on the dining room table one day and the next morning the table was black with ants. I have been reluctant to get Pest Control to come and spray because we have so many lizards. I have this newfound love (a few years) of lizards. They are so cute and I didn't want them to die from ant poisoning. Buying Doom and Dyant just does not kill the amount of ants that we have. I tried all the natural remedies, like bicarb and mealie meal sprinkled along their tracks. Vinegar and lemon. Chad came up with cucumber peel, he saw on Facebook that gets rid of ants. Ha! ants LOVE cucumber. The dog biscuits are not safe either and soon it would be our meat that I take out and put in the microwave to defrost during the day. It was like sorry lizards our food hygiene is more important than your life.  They came and sprayed on Wednesday, it is expensive and you need to do it twice. We did it years ago when we first moved into this house. What a pleasure that the cat's food bowl can be put down without water at the bottom of the bowl. We can put a plate next to the sink and it is not pitch black in the morning when I walk in the kitchen. The garden still has a few ants and we won't eradicate all of them, but hopefully my seedlings will survive. They did not spray by the fish pond and I think when they come next time, they need to put gel around the pond because that is where most of the ants were. I am happy to say all my lizards (that I know of) are safe and were not poisoned.

We still have workers at our house and they are driving me insane. I wanted a laundry to make more space in our kitchen when we redo it one day. I wanted our courtyard covered completely to make like an atrium and laundry. It wouldn't work for whatever reason, but they closed part of the courtyard next to what was once my office - now a junk room, because there were already foundations there. It has taken them two weeks to build a small wall, fit a sliding door and put a roof on and tile part of the floor. Now we have what could be a one bedroom cottage with lounge and kitchen if we put a door between the √∂ffice and Sheila's room. I don't know how much longer they are going to take. On Friday, all they did was knock holes in the wall to chase the plumbing pipes and redo the kitchen ceiling in the house that they did not do properly last week. They are not even getting paid by the day. This is the reason why our house has never been fixed up in all these years. I can't cope with noise and people all over the place making a mess. My dogs and I need to go far away and looking at these photos below, it does not even look good.

Other than being very unhappy with having her space invaded by people and putting a halt on her play time, Nala is still flourishing and loving her life with us. Except, the other day Chad shouted at her because she wouldn't come inside and she sulked for hours. She lay with her back to him on the floor in the lounge and he had to force her to get on the chair and lie next to him. I realised yesterday that whenever she is frightened of storms or fireworks, she goes and lies next to the fireplace and when Chad shouted at her she went and lay there as well. It is the same place where my brother put her bed the day he dropped her off at our house before we took it to Chad's room and I was wondering if she does not associate the area with memories of him. She is more forgiving of Spike than Chad, though. One morning when I gave them their special Chicken Liver meal, I went out the kitchen and she must have gone to Spike's bowl. I heard her cry and I think Spike snapped at her. She ran out the kitchen - she never fights back. The most she does is put her paw on Piggy when Piggy goes crazy at the door and jumps up at her when Mark gets home. A very bad habit Piggy has. Nala is still such a dainty girl and eats slowly whilst the others wolf down their food - not their dog food, but their special food. The second time I made it for them, Nala didn't even eat hers. She sat waiting to eat and never got to eat any. I thought she didn't like it, but she obviously has manners and I didn't tell her to eat it, so she just sat there.

The good thing about the builders being here is that Spike found a new "old" toy that is a ball and a tug of war toy for him.

When Mark and I went to the private Game Reserve next to Kruger National Park last year, we came home with high hopes of one day leaving the rat pack that is Johannesburg for the sanctuary of the bush and wildlife. We enrolled to do a Game Management Course through correspondence. Mark gave up after the first assignment. The reality of life on a game farm was a far cry from his dream of sundowners at the water edge with his Bull Terrier jumping off the back of his Landrover. I have finished the course. I just have to send in my last assignment tomorrow and I did far better when I did it on my own. The course can take 3 years to finish or a month depending on the individual. It may be open book, but it is not that easy because the answers are not directly from the book. I just finished the course because it is interesting and I have a history of paying for courses because I love the idea of studying and then never doing them. My biggest regrets in life.

I am also doing a writing course, which is 3 months only. I am very disappointed in the writing College. It is like chalk and cheese compared to Wildlife Campus that we are doing the Game Lodge Management Course through. I am not saying this because I have passed the Game Management Course (so far) and don't know if I will pass the writing course. I am going to fail the last assignment of Game Lodge Management. It is on Economics and is full of numbers and like a history class. It should be interesting, but it is not. Anyway, the lady/tutor at Wildlife Campus cannot do enough. She acknowledges our assignments, gives feedback and she even went out of her way to help me, when Sheila put the one module and workbook in the Ronnie Recycling Bin with Chad's old school books, which I only realised months later. With Wildlife Campus if you have paid in full you get all the material when you pay and work at your own pace. The Writing College, you pay in full and don't get all the material but supposedly work at your own pace. Last weekend I finished the first assignment and could not carry on, because I only have module one. The assignment has not been marked as yet nor have I received acknowledgement that it was even received. I won't name the college until I am done with the course and maybe my perceptions will change, but right now I am so irritated and wouldn't recommend it. Hopefully, in the end, it will benefit me either at work doing our newsletters and website (the reason for doing it) or one day in the future when I ride off into the sunset out of this place called hell Johannesburg.

And that is Life and Us at the moment. Another week over - hard to believe... 'til next time

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