Light in the Night

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 30 October 2012: 6 years 1 month on …

Physical Advantage CBD / Mental Advantage CBD

As I write this, I am watching on TV the devastation that superstorm Sandy is leaving in its wake in the eastern states of the USA. It is one of the biggest – if not the biggest storm – ever to have hit the United States.

The storm has moved in from the Atlantic Ocean and has swept in from the East Coast visiting, amongst others, the states of New York, New Jersey, Virginia,  Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Baltimore …

A thirteen foot high tidal surge, rain and wind has left New York New York, Atlantic City and other  towns and cities reeling under floods, fire and snow!

New York is powerless!

Indeed, one week before the American Presidential election, the State of these States has been declared a “major disaster” by President Obama. However, there will be many stories of personal heroism and human endeavour.

It affects me!

It affects me because these are areas of the US that I have been privileged to live in and visit and because I have friends and family who live there.

I am as familiar with Battery Park, Manhattan, Ground Zero, Central Park, Wall Street and Fifth Avenue in New York as I am with St Georges Park, Third Avenue Dip, Brickmakers, Target Kloof and Port Alfred.

The latter places, of course, all being here in the Eastern Cape where we also faced the fury of Mother Nature last weekend when some 200 – 300 mm of rain was dumped on us.

Despite the devastation, there have been tales of personal heroism and human endeavour.

That has affected me too!

Not only because we witnessed the rain and the devastation first hand, not only because it angered me so much that a lot of the damage could have been prevented by better maintenance, preparation and supervision, but also because we got caught up in the floods.

We went out on Saturday evening for supper to celebrate Phillip’s prefectship. On our way home, down Wychwood Avenue, we got caught up in the water that had flooded the road. The car stalled and we had to be towed out.

On Monday it was towed to Maritime and on Tuesday I was informed that all was well – the engine was turning and would require a bit of TLC to get it back into shape.

However, on Wednesday, I was informed that it had been the wrong car (!) and that mine would not start. Yesterday, I was told that my car would have to be written off! We especially bought the station wagon because of my illness – it is automatic and has space for a wheelchair and whatever else.

I am devastated.

I have lost my health, my job, my holiday house and now my car.

I am devastated.

But, as I have said so many times before, it is in the darkness of the storms that life throws at you that you have to look for the little flicker of light that will keep you going.

I have to pick myself up from yet another blow.

I will find that flicker and the light will shine bright! 

Come back to Earth with a Bump! (Thailand Day 22) – Reprise

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 16 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

It was approximately half past five in the evening on Saturday 14 July 2012 – the last day of our trip and we were approaching Port Elizabeth airport.

British Airways Boeing Flight 6237 from JHB to PLZ was about to land. We couldn’t see from which direction because outside it looked like pea-soup! The pilot had said that there was a strong southerly wind blowing and that it was raining hard.

We had read that the coast was in the grips of a severe storm and I had phoned the airways before we left to ensure that all was in order. I was assured that all flights were travelling normally.

But this landing was far from normal … you couldn’t see a thing until we emerged from the cloud just above the Port Elizabeth harbour. The wind was buffeting the plane from the left side as we came down with the engines racing. The we lurched to the right, back to the left and then hit the ground hard … bump, bump, bump! Heads hit the lockers and people screamed. We shuddered, skidding from left to right to left along the runway, and then returned to normal as we slowly taxied to the airport building and parked right in front of the arrivals section.

There was a cacophony of noise inside the plane – nervous tension being released, I think – as passengers shouted, laughed, giggled and finally applauded the pilot for landing us safely. I would love to know at what point he would have decided to abort the landing; but we really had come back to earth with a bump! Both literally and figuratively!

The wind was howling and the rain was pouring down in sheets of water as we quickly sped across the concourse to the airport building. Port Elizabeth (and the country) was in the grips of a killer storm, and we had landed at the height of it. (It was howling, raining, flooding, snowing and had been since Thursday and was to continue until Monday.)

In the warmth of the arrivals terminal we collected our thoughts and our luggage. Then dashed to Kerri Botha’s double cab and slowly made our way home through the dark, windswept, wet, deluged streets of Port Elizabeth.

Once home, the boys quickly off-loaded the luggage in the pouring rain. We were all eager to see Charlie and he was nowhere to be found! Then suddenly he appeared at the sliding door on the front stoep – wet and cold and jumping all over us!

Yes – we were home – Charlie was our welcoming party in the height of the storm!

We ordered in burgers from Steers and started unpacking: washing, dirty clothes, crumpled clothes, summer clothes, winter clothes, new clothes, old clothes, pamphlets, passports, tickets, booklets, unused bahts, chargers, cables, phones, toiletries … it was the end of our trip.

As we unpacked our suitcases, we unpacked our memories and our thoughts of a magnificent holiday. Each item unpacked had some connotation attached to it and we shared this with each other. Later, the laptops, the I-Pads, the cameras and the photos were produced, compared, laughed at, recollected, transferred, stored, face-booked, emailed and shared with the world.

This would continue on Sunday and Monday and … who knows … as the storm abated, we would slowly come back to earth and return to normal life: Phillip back to the boarding house on Sunday, Pera back to work on Monday, Sean discovering that he still had a week’s holiday  ( at 9pm Saturday evening he was called out to do emergency NSRI rescue duty!) … and me?

Well, there’s the documenting of our holiday that needs to be done and will keep me occupied for the next few days.

In my mind, I have been comparing Life to a Holiday. There are so many similarities.

So, watch this space, as I try to share our exciting journey with you … and enjoy the pictures with us!

In the meantime, it was great falling asleep in my bed for the first time in three weeks!

Our grateful thanks are extended to all who made this trip possible.

 And to

  •          the Bryants from Plett who shared their holiday with us and did all the hard work as the tour guides
  •          Tyler Botha for looking after Charlie and the house
  •          The Uptons, Reelers, Moolmans and Keelings for their hospitality in Pretoria
  •          Cheryl Price and Kerri Botha for airport transfers

 

 

Come back to Earth with a Bump! (Thailand Day 22)

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 16 July 2012: 5 years 10 months on … Advantage ED

It was approximately half past five in the evening on Saturday 14 July 2012 – the last day of our trip and we were approaching Port Elizabeth airport.

British Airways Boeing Flight 6237 from JHB to PLZ was about to land. We couldn’t see from which direction because outside it looked like pea-soup! The pilot had said that there was a strong southerly wind blowing and that it was raining hard.

We had read that the coast was in the grips of a severe storm and I had phoned the airways before we left to ensure that all was in order. I was assured that all flights were travelling normally.

But this landing was far from normal … you couldn’t see a thing until we emerged from the cloud just above the Port Elizabeth harbour. The wind was buffeting the plane from the left side as we came down with the engines racing. The we lurched to the right, back to the left and then hit the ground hard … bump, bump, bump! Heads hit the lockers and people screamed. We shuddered, skidding from left to right to left along the runway, and then returned to normal as we slowly taxied to the airport building and parked right in front of the arrivals section.

There was a cacophony of noise inside the plane – nervous tension being released, I think – as passengers shouted, laughed, giggled and finally applauded the pilot for landing us safely. I would love to know at what point he would have decided to abort the landing; but we really had come back to earth with a bump! Both literally and figuratively!

The wind was howling and the rain was pouring down in sheets of water as we quickly sped across the concourse to the airport building. Port Elizabeth (and the country) was in the grips of a killer storm, and we had landed at the height of it. (It was howling, raining, flooding, snowing and had been since Thursday and was to continue until Monday.)

In the warmth of the arrivals terminal we collected our thoughts and our luggage. Then dashed to Kerri Botha’s double cab and slowly made our way home through the dark, windswept, wet, deluged streets of Port Elizabeth.

Once home, the boys quickly off-loaded the luggage in the pouring rain. We were all eager to see Charlie and he was nowhere to be found! Then suddenly he appeared at the sliding door on the front stoep – wet and cold and jumping all over us!

Yes – we were home – Charlie was our welcoming party in the height of the storm!

We ordered in burgers from Steers and started unpacking: washing, dirty clothes, crumpled clothes, summer clothes, winter clothes, new clothes, old clothes, pamphlets, passports, tickets, booklets, unused bahts, chargers, cables, phones, toiletries … it was the end of our trip.

As we unpacked our suitcases, we unpacked our memories and our thoughts of a magnificent holiday. Each item unpacked had some connotation attached to it and we shared this with each other. Later, the laptops, the I-Pads, the cameras and the photos were produced, compared, laughed at, recollected, transferred, stored, face-booked, emailed and shared with the world.

This would continue on Sunday and Monday and … who knows … as the storm abated, we would slowly come back to earth and return to normal life: Phillip back to the boarding house on Sunday, Pera back to work on Monday, Sean discovering that he still had a week’s holiday  ( at 9pm Saturday evening he was called out to do emergency NSRI rescue duty!) … and me?

Well, there’s the documenting of our holiday that needs to be done and will keep me occupied for the next few days.

In my mind, I have been comparing Life to a Holiday. There are so many similarities.

So, watch this space, as I try to share our exciting journey with you … and enjoy the pictures with us!

In the meantime, it was great falling asleep in my bed for the first time in three weeks!

Our grateful thanks are extended to all who made this trip possible.

 And to

  •          the Bryants from Plett who shared their holiday with us and did all the hard work as the tour guides
  •          Tyler Botha for looking after Charlie and the house
  •          The Uptons, Reelers, Moolmans and Keelings for their hospitality in Pretoria
  •          Cheryl Price and Kerri Botha for airport transfers

 

 

Taking, Giving and Receiving

©2011 Edward C. Lunnon

Sunday 25 December 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Advantage ED

Christmas 2011!

It’s my sixth Christmas with CBD which I received in September of 2006. It was given to me as a gift by someone – no-one knows who – and when I took it, I did not know what it would give me and what it would take away from me.

Indeed, Christmas is a time of giving and receiving; a time of celebration and reflection.

In my life, I have been given so much – and so much more than most other people who have lived, currently live or who will still live on this earth.

But sometimes it becomes difficult to be thankful for what one has been given.

You only see what has been taken – and, in my life, I have had taken so much.

My father was taken by a severe stroke when I was twelve years old; my mother was taken by diabetes, figuratively and literally, bits at a time until her death in 1986.

It is especially at this time of the year that I miss not having experienced parents as many other people do.

I studied to become a teacher, but in 1988 I allowed that noble profession to be taken away from me. In order to receive better remuneration elsewhere, I allowed greed to take away my chosen vocation. It is sad that so many other teachers in our country – which needs education so desperately – have done the same.

In 2002, I had my then occupation taken away from me in a bizarre contrived set of lies and corporate circumstance. What had been given to me was taken away in the blink of an eye: the time it took to sign a signature with no conscience, almost in a situation similar to when Pontius Pilate washed his hands in water after he had allowed the decision to be made to crucify Jesus Christ.

And then came the Corticalbasal Degeneration – a motor neurone disease that gives and takes.  

As time progresses, it gives of itself more and more.

And it takes more and more – slowly, stealthily over the last six years it has been taking more and more of my body. First my left fingers and left hand; then my left arm, right hand, left toes, left foot, left leg …

It takes my short-term memory, some of my cognitive functions, and so much more …

…  my ability to do things that most other people take for granted: brushing teeth, shaving, swallowing, eating, picking up, writing, typing, talking, seeing, smelling, tasting, planning, sitting, breathing …

Slowly it takes more of my ability to make a contribution to society and my purpose in life.

It has taken my ability to work and my capacity to earn an income and to provide for my family. This year it has taken our house at St Francis Bay and the special gift that we had to spend quality time together as a family. And whilst, economically, it makes no financial sense to have a holiday house, I have become only too aware this December, as our boys take off to go to friends, just how much a beach house acts as a magnet to keep the family and friends together. Those are the “priceless” moments that we see in the TV advert for Mastercard!

As the knife and fork become difficult to operate and the food falls from the spoon, and the tremors and spasms increase, and I need more and more assistance to put on my shoes and put in a light bulb, the CBD takes more and more of my self-esteem.

Human nature, I guess, is also very fickle. We all know that it is “nobler to give than to receive.” But we definitely don’t like being taken for a ride. We don’t like continually buying rounds of drinks and never receiving a drink back. There is no such thing as a free lunch!

Few of us are so noble that we just continue giving and never expect something in return. I know of no one who continuously gives presents and doesn’t expect one back!

The more you can give people, the more people you find surround you. Conversely, the less you have to give, the less you find around you. Christmas cards have stopped coming (all but the annual one – thanks so much!), I suppose because I haven’t sent any back, and I guess that’s the reason that the text messages have become far fewer, the phone calls have almost dried up and the visits are non-existent.

Yes, it is so much easier to receive and to take rather than to give!

However, CBD cannot be human – it takes but it also gives: it has given me the ability to see life through very different eyes;  to be more tolerant (I do try!); to give more of myself; it has given me opportunities to travel abroad and locally; to write; to talk; to meet all kinds of interesting people and those who do give to me unconditionally; to have my chat programme on radio with Lance; to experience the kindness of those people from Hospice who visit me regularly and those medical personnel – the doctors, bio’s, orthotists, physio’s – who assist me to make my life more comfortable.

Christians believe that God Himself, in the ultimate act of giving to mankind, was born into this world as His Son, Jesus Christ, in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago. That is what we celebrate.

We are taught that “God gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

But it is in celebrating this Birthday and it is at this “happy” Christmas time, especially, that one tends to see what has been taken and not what has been given.

In this time of supposed goodwill and godliness; happiness and hope; family cohesiveness and friendship; snowmen and snowballs; purity, peace, presents and pretence; flicking lights and food; cheer and charity; tinsel and talk; and drinks and even more drinks, it is difficult sometimes to understand Life and to experience “Happy Holidays”.  No wonder that for some it becomes intolerable and they end up throwing a few snowballs at each other and at Life! Some even throw their lives away!

As I write this, the news informs us that the “Season to be Jolly” has resulted in the 82nd person, a thirty-six year old woman, jumping from our notorious Van Stadens Bridge on Christmas Day and ending her life.

So I am thankful that I am able to control my mind and to keep it focussed on 2012. I wonder sometimes where that Star will lead me. What I do know, is that I will receive and take far more than I will ever be able to give!

Despite the polyfilla to cover the cracks: the daily twenty odd tablets, the cortisone and now the quinine with its side-effects of headaches, rash, nausea, weakness, tiredness, and ringing in my ears (not bells nor beers!), I have my new leg brace for earthly support and Support from Him whose birth we celebrate today.

As Asaph wrote in Psalm 73 : 26

“My mind and my body may grow weak,

But God is my strength;

He is all I ever need. “

 

 

Take My Blues Away

 Tuesday 9 August 2011: 4 years 11 months on … Advantage ED

Women’s Day!

Last year, round about this time, I wrote Piece of Paradise and Ed and Elvis.

In both blogs I wrote about trips to the Southern Cape, including the Garden Route, and about visits with friend Jan Hoogendyk who had entered the SA Idols contest.

Well, history tells us that Jan went on to win SA Idols 2010 as Elvis Blue, and Sean and I were pleased to break into his heavy schedule and to meet up with him for a quick cuppachino at Dulce’s a while ago. I’m still hoping to get him to Port Elizabeth for a show.

And this past long weekend, we went on to visit the Southern Cape once again. Exactly a year after visiting Plettenberg Bay in 2010, we were back in 2011.

Friday night was a busy (and long one for me!) By invitation of Mr Squash, Alan Stapleton, we attended the re-opening of Crusaders Squash Club with its new glass-backed courts! But Saturday morning at 11, we left on time for Plett, just two hours westwards along the N2 from Port Elizabeth. Sean is now a year into his driver’s licence and once again, is behind the wheel. (Phillip has just got his licence – in Uitenhage – to drive a scooter, but he remained in PE to do advanced maths and an IT project for school.)

At one pm sharp we took the drive around the corner at The Crags, just before Keurbooms Strand and the River. The view before you of the Plettenberg Bay and the Robberg Peninsula takes some beating.

We were spending the weekend with John and Wendy Clarke. (John had told me, almost five years ago when I became ill, that many would go before me! Now he is convalescing from Guillain-Barre disease, which, just a few weeks ago, had paralysed him within a few hours!)

After lunch, we went for a long walk along the beach, from Keurbooms River, along the lagoon spit and all the way to the river mouth at (what used to be until it was flooded away) Lookout Beach. John tried his hand at fishing, something that just a few weeks ago he was unable to do! The views of the blue ocean and the blue mountains – some still capped with white snow from the recent falls – that surround this impressive Bay are spectacular. We even had the pleasure of viewing a display by a lonesome whale just beyond the surf.

Plettenberg Bay is to South Africa something like Monaco is to the French Riviera. The views of the Robberg Peninsula and the Tsitsikamma Mountains are spectacular. The homes on Millionaire’s Row are stunning and possibly extravagant.

Juxtaposed to this display of the country’s wealth, just on the other side of the N2, is the squalor of the tin shacks, the RDP houses and rows of outside toilets (ironically, at one stage, this township was  named Flushing Meadows!).

It is a common-place sight in our country: the haves and the have-nots right next to each other. One sees it in Johannesburg’s Sandton and Alexandria; in Cape Town’s Constantia and Hout Bay and Khayalitsha; and, in fact, in every South African city, town, village and township.

It is a display that could quite easily begin a discussion on the Fairness of Life (who said that Life’s fair?) and fuel a debate on socialism. Many years ago, I recall our then domestic assistant, Lorna, looking at this display of empty holiday homes and not understanding why so many of these large homes were only occupied for just a few weeks in each year!

As I write this, the youth of London and indeed Britain, have gone on the rampage. SKY News is showing pictures of wanton destruction, looting, arson and plain downright criminality and theft. If this can happen in a so-called First World Country, it reminds me how much of a tinder box we sit on here in South Africa!

When I was in doing my military service at the Infantry School in Oudtshoorn in 1982/83, we often came to Keurbooms for weekends. I had to AWOL, as I was just a troopie in my first year whilst my brother-in-law Anton and his mates were officers in their second year!

Indeed, my first visits to this magnificent part of the world were whilst I was studying at Stellenbosch University. We came to Plett at the end of every year once we had finished our final examinations. It was the beginning of what is now the much more formalised “Plett Rage” that takes place annually in December and now draws not only thousands of University students but also thousands of finishing off high school matric pupils from all over the country.

I remember one trip, arriving in the Peugeot (nicknamed the Pugget!) and being kicked out of the then Piesangs River Caravan Park, because the five of us – one woman and four men – did not represent a family unit of any kind, and that park supposedly only catered for families! We ended up camping at the Plett Park instead.

Within a few days we collected enough to fly the lady back to Cape Town and we continued enjoying what was then the pub at the Beacon Island Hotel, the Grape Vine (?) underneath the Hotel, the Formosa Inn and the Arches.

On our evening trip back to Cape Town, the Pugget overheated near Knysna, and we filled the radiator with salt water out of the Knysna Lagoon! We later pitched our tent on the front lawn of the Du Toits in George – and they found a squatter camp in their garden the next morning!

Those were the carefree student days of bright sunshine, braaivleis, beer and bankcruptcy!

In later years, our family often visited this area too and we have explored most of the Plett, Keurbooms, Knysna, George area – the Garden Route of South Africa. We also bought a plot of land at Sanderlings on the Keurbooms River, and had plans drawn up for a holiday house there, before we decided to buy in St Francis Bay instead.

Saturday evening we braaied with the Bryants, Sunday we slept in and then walked the beach, as we did on Monday. We talked, we walked, we ate, we slept and John fished – something I still do not do voluntarily!

It was a weekend of re-charging the batteries, depressing the blues, enjoying friendships and living Life!

 

PS! It’s Raining Potholes and Snow

Thursday 28 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … AdvantageCBD

I started blogging in October 2009, three years after I first became aware that something was wrong with my left hand.

It was also at that time that Port Elizabeth and surrounds were placed on water restrictions. Our supply dams were emptying fast and we were not getting any rain. And as we have seen in the international, national, business and private economies over the similar period, using more than you have, leads to putting everything in a precarious position. Hence, the biggest world recession since the last Great Depression, and, as I write, we wait expectantly to see what will happen in the United States this weekend, as they battle to balance the budget.

But back to the rain – like money, when you have no inflow, you have to limit the outflow. Hence the restrictions that were imposed: no hoses, no watering of gardens, no filling of pools, a limit of 15KL of water per month per household, etc.

For the last two years, whilst I have been blogging, I have often written about the lack of rainfall in our area. It has been a pleasure travelling to other areas of the country where water has been plentiful and where one did not feel guilty having an extra-long shower or even a luxury of a bath!

All that is over now! For the last three months, we have had rain, rain and more rain!

And as the water has fallen, we have had flooding and all the consequential damage. St Francis Bay has twice been cut off from the rest of the country by its only access road being washed away at the Sand River bridge. Homes have been flooded, roads and bridges washed away, the potholes have become even more and even bigger (is that possible?), our roads look like patchwork quilts with all the potholes and our supply dams have all filled to overflowing.

But the authorities have been slow in reacting, and the restrictions have remained in place. Only last week, were they partially lifted. It has been a case of “water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink!”

And so much for global warming! We have experienced cold weather such as I can’t remember ever having had in Port Elizabeth. Even I, who does not feel the cold because of my illness having damaged my “thermometer”, have been getting cold hands and cold feet. I have resorted to thick socks, woolly sheepskin slippers and “hand jeans” – gloves with the tips cut off!

This week, the heavy snowfalls in Africa have brought South Africa to a standstill! Major national roads have been closed. Even radio transmission has been halted in the Queenstown area where the transmitter generator has run out of fuel, and it can’t be accessed because of the snow. The Abrahamsons on the Karoo farm, Kaalplaas, where we spent last weekend in Somerset East (see picture in 2B or not 2B), also woke up to a white winter wonderland!

Ironically, Chile is experiencing similar biting cold weather and snow, and the United States is having severe heat waves! Whoever’s in charge of the weather seems to be messing it up all over the world.

Just as the government is messing up!

Over the last number of years, maintenance has not been a priority of our government. Everything has gone into a state of decay: education, healthcare, public broadcasting, airlines, roads, bridges, railways …

Four years ago, just after I had been diagnosed with CBD, I arranged a parents’ train to Bloemfontein when Grey PE played its traditional fixture against brother school Grey Bloem.  For years, the schools have been travelling by train on a home and away basis. Then, I had battled to get a train, but eventually managed to pull it off. Two hundred and thirty of us travelled to Bloemfontein, and we experienced a very cold night too when we had, what was then, the heaviest Karoo snowfall in living memory (and a train with no heating and delayed by 6 hours!) What fun!

Two years ago, after even more struggling, I managed to organise the Grey-V train 2 to Bloemfontein! That time we went prepared with sleeping bags, had no snow (but lots of rain in Bloemfontein), we were warmer and only arrived a half hour late. Even more fun!

This weekend, the PE school travels to Bloemfontein again. I have had so many people asking me to arrange another train. However, after giving it some thought, I regretfully came to the conclusion that my health has deteriorated to such an extent that I would not be able to do so.

Having said that, I think my health is still in a better condition than our ailing rail system. News is that SHOSHOLOZA (the SA mainline rail company) is unable to provide any trains at all this year. (Recently, all passenger trains in the entire country were cancelled for a month!)

Even the 600 school boys will be travelling by bus this year, and, so, yet another of our traditions is thrown out the window!  Future Grey boys will not experience the excitement of travelling to Bloem by train – in fact, many will now never ever experience train travel.

The chances of winning in Bloemfontein are limited (to say the least!), but travel safe, play hard, enjoy, and keep warm and dry because:

There’s more to come, they say – starting tonight: more rain, more cold, more snow!

Yes, we live in a topsy-turvy world.

Last weekend, we witnessed the awful killing by Anders Behring Breivik of seventy plus people (mainly children) in Oslo and on Utoeya Island – in the name of “saving Europe from Muslim takover”. We also saw the death of the notorious troubled and tragic singer (with the biggest hit REHAB), alcohol and drug abuser Amy Whitehouse, at the age of just twenty seven!

Last weekend, we also had the pleasure of visitors from The Strand: my niece Michelle, her husband Sebastian and their nine-month old daughter Hannah. Looking at Hannah at a place where she is just about to start crawling, I thought of this world a few times and wondered whether it was fair to bring children into and up in such a messed-up place. The answer came soon:

On Saturday, the rain let up and we headed off to the Addo National Elephant Park with its new entrance just 40 km from the City Centre at Colchester.

Away from the “messed-upness” of the world and in the quietness of nature, we experienced the beauty of our earthly home that hurtles through Space and from which we launch rockets to explore that Space (and maybe mess that up, too?) – read my previous blog.

Just a half hour from the hustle of the City, we experienced the joy and wellness of living – elephant, lion, kudu, zebra, buffalo, … all in the now lush green, over – watered African terrain of our planet Earth.

What a privilege and a pleasure to share in God’s creation!

Sky News reported yesterday that the British government had spent £2 million to research what made the British people happy. They found the following (and does this surprise you?):

The following, in order of importance, contributes to the happiness and well-being of the British people:

1.       Health

2.       Relationships with family and friends

3.       Relationships with spouse

4.       Economic well-being and job satisfaction

5.       The current and future state of our environment

I wonder where South Africans would place safety and security, and service delivery on this list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

That’s COOL!

Tuesday 25 January 2011: 4 years 4 months on …

Yesterday, I went for my annual checkup (report back?) to the neurologist. I will disuss that later, because right now I am very excited and very humbled.

I have always said that the more you give in this life,the more you get back. And today has been no exception.

Lance du Plessis – my host at AlgoaFM for “ED is in wEd”, and the star of the show! – often jokes about the fact that the CBD has taken away my ability to feel the cold (as it has my sense of smell and taste).

Temperatures below freezing were my saving grace when I recently visited England and Ireland (read ED is in EnglanD and ED is in irElanD). I can walk around in shorts and a t-shirt and not feel the cold. Sean and Phillip even bought me a thermometer last year so that I could read the temperature and dress accordingly!

(Howver, I have to be careful because eventually the progression of this disease will lead to my dying from pneumonia. Right now, I am battling to get rid of a lung infection, and the antibiotics seem to be helping!)

 But the heat catches me. It washes me out and makes me extremely weary. I battled with the humidity and heat last week, and after leaving the AlgoaFM Studio, I stopped in at Cool Projects at 286 Walmer Boulevard to disuss the practicalities of an air-conditioner.

On Friday, Lindsay Caine, the sales rep, came to see me. We discussed the requirements, the practicalities, the positioning and the cost. Eventually, with a family discussion we decided that the main bedroom would be the appropriate place, as that would become my “home” as the CBD winds its wieldy way, and restricts my movements.

Today, Lindsay phoned me to inform me that her boss, Victor Pretorius, and Cool Projects, together with AlgoaFM, had agreed to sponsor the provision and the installation of an air-conditioning unit in our main bedroom!

How’s that for being Cool?

I am excited, I am grateful, I am thankful, I am so very humbled.

LG – Life’s Good 

 

Stop Worrying
(Luke 12:22-34)
25“That’s why I’m telling you to stop worrying about your life—what you will eat or what you will drink[k]—or about your body—what you will wear. Life is more than food, isn’t it, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t plant or harvest or gather food into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. You are more valuable than they are, aren’t you? 27Can any of you add a single hour to the length of your life[l] by worrying? 28And why do you worry about clothes? Consider the lilies in the field and how they grow. They don’t work or spin yarn, 29but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. 30Now if that is the way God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and thrown into an oven tomorrow, won’t he clothe you much better—you who have little faith?266
31“So don’t ever worry by saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32because it is the gentiles who are eager for all those things. Surely your heavenly Father knows that you need all of them! 33But first be concerned about God’s kingdom and his righteousness,[m] and all of these things will be provided for you as well. 34So never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Stuck at the Airport

Monday 10 January 2011: 4 years 4 months on …

Over the last few weeks we have heard many stories and seen many visuals of people stuck at airports in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe and North America. Unseasonable weather and heavy snowfalls created a knock-on effect and havoc around the world. People’s holiday, Christmas and New Year’s plans were thwarted and thrown into disarray.

That’s Life!

We can plan, set objectives and goals, make New Year’s resolutions and think that we have everything under control, but suddenly, and often, in the blink of an eye, God – or nature or the universe or some higher authority or life, or whatever we believe in – dictates otherwise.

As much as we think we ARE, the reality is just that we ARE NOT in control.

And, so, at times, we get stuck at the airports of Life.

I think of my own situation. It was slightly more than four years ago that I started realising that something was wrong. My left hand fingers weren’t doing what I was telling them to do and I was having problems shaving – I couldn’t get my left hand to my face!

Chiropractors, physiotherapists, doctors, neurosurgeons, neurologists, CAT and MRI scans set the investigatory pathway beyond cancer and tumours to Parkinson’s and then eventually to Corticalbasal Degeneration.

In that brief moment, sitting in the neurologist’s office at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, my life – and that of those closest to me – was thrown into disarray. Our plans, our goals, our objectives, our lives, were thrown out of the window in the flash of a moment.

Just when I thought that my life’s Garmin was working at its best, when I thought that my GPS system can’t get it wrong, my way was lost. The snow had come and I was stuck at the airport!

When you lose your way with a GPS, you are told “recalculating” is taking place. New objectives and instructions are given to get you to your destination.

Similarly, when stuck at Life’s airports and at this time of each year, you need to take stock, “recalculate” and set yourself new goals, new plans and new objectives. Otherwise, things can go horribly wrong.

My diagnosis has got me stuck. And being stuck at my particular airport doesn’t make things easy. It’s the difference that one letter makes.

I am not stuck at Heathrow – I am stuck on Deathrow.

Whilst the rest of the world carries on ‘normally’, I (and my family for that matter) have become entrapped in an artificial cacoon – waiting for the inevitable to happen.

There’s no way back. I can’t go back to the Life that I knew. Right now, there is no way to reverse the CBD that I have. The damage has been done and cannot be repaired.

Each day, more and more snow falls. What started off as an exciting new challenge becomes a daunting future. The circumstances become increasingly difficult. And I am being worn down, day after day.  As the disease gives more of itself each day, it takes more of my body by paralysing it and more of my mind by confusing it. I become increasingly weary.

All that remains is to wait for that plane to arrive to take me to my Final Destination, and to make myself as comfortable as possible in the meantime.

And, in the meantime, like at the airport whilst the wait continues, the floor becomes hard, the lights go out, the services dry up, the money dries up, the patience runs out, the tempers fray, the information ceases and the waiting becomes intolerable.

I have said that I will party till the End. I am not being negative nor selfish but, please forgive me if there are times when I wish that End to arrive speedily, when I wish for that plane to arrive sooner rather than later. There are times when I consider all the possibilities of hastening the arrival of that plane – a mercy flight? – that will take me out of this uncomfortable hiatus.

I guess there are many people who have been stuck in similar circumstances before, and many will be stuck there in the future. Many are stuck with me right now!

It is not for us to judge their wishes. It is only when we, too, experience those circumstances, that we may be able to make an informed decision about their wishes and actions.

Is there ever a point when the quantity of life overrides the need for the quality of life?

 It is something that I wrestle with as the packing up and goodbyes commence and St Francis Bay and Holidays 2010/2011 come to an end.

 It is something that I wrestle with in my cacoon as I set my objectives, goals and plans for 2011.