The Agony and The Ecstasy

Monday 13 June 2011: 4 years 9 months on … ADVANTAGE CBD

I started blogging in October 2009 after I had fallen down the wet steps and broken my elbow. Those were the last good rains we had in the Eastern Cape. Thereafter, we were placed on water restrictions and for the last 20 months we have not received any substantial rain at all.

We have been restricted to 15 KL water per household per month. In order to stay within the limit, Phillip was made Minister of Water Affairs in our house. He took regular readings from the water meter and advised what we could use and when.

Buckets were placed in the showers and the water thus collected was poured down toilets and used to water the garden. It has been an irritant for me who is already so unbalanced on my feet to try and balance over the shower bucket. I was concerned that I may fall again and break another elbow!

But this past weekend, I kicked the bucket!

That is because we had more than good rains during the month of May. Our dams rose steadily from below 30% capacity. The ground was saturated. And then last Wednesday a “cut-off low” appeared on the weather screens and the heavens opened – almost like a sponge that had been squeezed just above us. From Wednesday morning to Friday morning we had between 100 and 200 mm of rain (depending where you were).

Even our catchment areas got good rain and so by the weekend, our supply dams went from almost empty to overflowing.  The Kouga Dam, our largest, started overflowing on Saturday morning. Of course, with this type of rain comes flooding and devastation, but luckily this was limited to localised areas of flooding.

It reminded me of the song that we sang as kids at the Methodist Sunday School in The Strand:

 “The Wise man built his house upon the Rock … and the rain came tumbling down.

The rain came down and the flood went up … and the house upon the rock stood firm.

The foolish man built his house upon the Sand … and the rain came tumbling down.

The rain came down and the flood went up … and the house upon the sand crashed down!”

The Herald reported on Thursday 9 June 2011: WEATHER BRINGS MISERY – AND RELIEF!

And isn’t that so true of Life – both literally and figuratively?

In the last few years and months, we have seen buildings tumble down around us in one natural disaster after another – fire, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and volcanoes! Amazingly, in all the devastation, some people and buildings remain unscathed whilst the rest is obliterated. And after the event, we learn lessons, and we see a brand new coming out of the old, and often the new is better than the old!

We have a Coral tree in our front garden. When I bought the house twenty six years ago, it was a small little tree. Over the years it has become an imposing chunk of nature and a beautiful feature. But in the process, its roots have shifted and lifted the paving and the concrete driveway. Last week, just before the rains came, Wiseman – the paver, came in and lifted all the paving, removed the roots and relaid the pavers – far better than they ever looked before! But the rain came and tested the paving and in some places it was found lacking – so we were able to lift it again and improve it again. Now we have a perfectly new paved area!

That’s how we are forged in life. That’s how we become innovative and inventive and create better lives for ourselves and our children and our world.

The storms of life hit us all periodically and the lives that we build in this world are so dependent on the foundations upon which they are built. Each of us chooses our foundation and daily builds upon it and when the storms hit us, do we succumb to the onslaught, do we just survive, or do we come out of the challenge a better person, bevelled and shaped by the event?

Difficult situations require ingenious solutions; hence the saying “Necessity is the mother of invention”!

And, yes, the storms come after the fair weather, as surely as night follows day, as winter follows summer and as flood follows drought.

I am ecstatic that we can kick the bucket, the gardens are watered, the pool is full and all we now have to wait for is the local Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality to officially lift the water restrictions. The press reports today that it may take them a few weeks to make this decision. (Of course, according to the economic principle of supply and demand, water costs have been escalated during the drought, so one could not expect them to get rid of this cash cow too soon!) It would appear that Port Elizabeth is the only city in the world where one can experience floods and water restrictions at the same time!

But, in my ecstasy, there is also agony.

This past week has become the most difficult time since I became ill. Slowly, the disease takes more and more from me. I think I should be renamed ESKOM – sometimes there is power and sometimes not; sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t! Sometimes, I look so good, and sometimes not!

Now, the CBD is making it difficult for me to sit, because, like all the other unused muscles in my body, the glutes in my buttocks are also atrophying.

When I sit or lie down on my back, it is directly on the bone and causes havoc in my left leg and foot. It is not sore but so uncomfortable. The most comfortable position now is to remain standing, and, of course, unlike a giraffe, I cannot do that all day and night! Last week, Thursday, my leg would not work and as the rain poured down, it became the first day since I became ill, that I remained in bed all day, just trying to find a way of making myself comfortable.

But, on Friday morning, I got up to have lunch (uncomfortably so) with Andrew Barton and Rob Elfick. The sushi at Fushions was good (as always), the Amstels (just 2!) refreshing and the company was excellent. Thanks, guys, for making the long days shorter, and for always being there for me from the very start of this challenging journey.

And now, more gym, more exercise and more walking on the golf course! Last evening, as Sean and I walked along the 5th, him with his golf club, the sun was setting in the west and everything looked so clean and fresh after the heavy rains.

God had washed the windows of our world this past week and we saw that it was good. 

However, necessity demands another invention. So we have to find a way of enabling me to sit down comfortably. That will be today’s task!


I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.

I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome

I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help

I asked for everything so I could enjoy life.


 Instead, He gave me life so I could enjoy everything.

I received nothing I wanted.

I received everything I needed.