Lousy Blogger

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 15 July 2013: 6 years 10 months on …

Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage ED

I saw that someone commented on my blog site that I was a lousy blogger! I surely am.

Let me try and justify that lousiness:

I have been very busy – various projects and lots of travelling.

The internet and my wireless connection are playing up – South Africa must have the worst and slowest internet connection in the world. It’s so frustrating! And when the internet goes down, so does the help desk at MWEB! Fat help that is!

Mentally, I have not been in a good place. Almost seven years of illness is starting to take its toll on my tired and weakening body and my fighting and busy mind. The cloudiness in my mind also appears to be getting worse. I have difficulty in putting myself into time and place. The writing is not so easy anymore …

And physically, the most difficult thing that prevents me from writing is, believe it or not, my inability to sit comfortably. Pressure on my bum immediately sets my body off into all kinds of muscle contractions and spasms. If only I could find an answer to this one! And my appointment with a specialist that has been recommended, made in January, is only in August! Roll on August and hopefully a solution!

So please forgive me as I (slowly) try and keep you updated with my comings and goings … I will try and do that for as long as I can.

Tuesday morning, after Sister Gill’s visit at ten, I had Holy Communion with Rev Rowan Rodgers from the Newton Park Methodist Church at eleven. Then a good hour long massage session from Julian Fletcher – the best in town if you can get hold of him! I also booked him for Friday morning – but with Julian that’s no guarantee that he’ll be there!

Last Wednesday, after my radio show and weekly coffee at Bluewaters café, I managed to get in a short gym session. I walked for about half an hour on the treadmill and find that walking definitely keeps the leg muscles going.  In the afternoon I had my weekly beard trim and my monthly haircut. Grant at Front Cover in Newton Park (041 363 2529) keeps me looking good, so if you need a haircut, give them a chance.

Thursday I had lunch with Ben Roff at Spargos. It’s always a pleasure catching up with what’s happening in the real world!

Friday morning, we packed for our trip to Somerset East – heading off to the Abrahamsons and the Biltong Festival. We haven’t been there for two years, although it feels like it was yesterday! (See my blog 2B or not 2B written in August 2011 – you can just use the ARCHIVE section on the right hand side of my blog or else the SEARCH blog also on the right hand side of the blog.)

In life, just when things are going smoothly and everything is hunky dory, suddenly something happens to upset the apple cart.

So a relatively short two and a half hour trip to Somerset East becomes a bit of a challenge. Just before we left Port Elizabeth, I heard on the radio that the Olifantshoek Pass was closed as a result of a truck accident. It would be closed for the next five hours!

And that’s our route to Somerset East …

So, one can’t let life get you down – you need to get the upper hand and make alternative arrangements; make decisions now!

image

Instead, we took the R75 from Port Elizabeth north-westwards towards Jansenville. Some 20 km from Wolwefontein we turned eastwards on the gravel road R400 through Waterford, past the Darlington Dam and the northern section of the Addo Elephant Park.

Some 30 km from Waterford we turned left and travelled north east on the road to Somerset East. Fifty km from there we entered Grant’s farm Kaalplaas – East Cape Safaris – from the south rather than from the north as we would usually have travelled.

In Afrikaans we say “’n Boer maak ‘n plan” (a farmer makes a plan), and we had overcome the challenge of the closed pass. Along the way, we travelled an unfamiliar route to us, through the Noorsveld, and seen another beautiful part of our wonderful Eastern Cape.

It’s another example of how one can address challenges in life – we could have stayed at home and said we can’t get there or we could have found an alternative, which we did, and become all the more richer for having done so.

And it only took us three hours – half an hour longer – to get there. I mustn’t forget to add that Phillip was at the wheel for the first time on a long trip and on a gravel road. His learner’s licence was due to be upgraded to a full driver’s licence after his 18th birthday, but alas the traffic department has been on strike (together with the electricity department and whoever else seems to go out at the drop of a hat these days!) He drove so well – there and back – so hopefully now we’ll be able to get him an appointment for a driver’s licence test soon (the traffic department re-opened this morning, but, unfortunately, Phill has returned to school today!)

We braaied and kuiered (visited) on Friday evening  with Grant and Sarine, his parents, their children and the cousins in their beautiful bouma (and two Scandinavian hunters).

On Saturday morning, after a very large BREAKFAST!, we headed off to the Biltong festival in town. However, we did not stay too long this time – it would appear that the festival is starting to lose its appeal and we were slightly disappointed by the stalls, entertainment and attendance.  It will be interesting to see how much longer this festival remains on the festival calendar.

It was hot at 25 degrees.

We returned to the farm, watched rugby on TV and ate yet again! This time we were joined by Ben, an American hunter who had just arrived from Seattle and Abrie, the professional hunter, who bambooed our outside stoep ceiling last year.

On Sunday morning, it was cold at 10 degrees. After breakfast, we headed home, again with Phill at the wheel, but this time headed back to Port Elizabeth from Somerset East and Middleton along the usual national route N10 via Kommadagga, the now open Olifantshoek Pass, Paterson and Nanaga.

The weekend had come to an end far too quickly – don’t they all? – and then it was time to prepare for back to school this morning. The three week winter holiday had also come to an end!

This morning, it’s back to me and Charlie at home. Even the God’s are crying in the form of the cold and drizzle. I really miss having the company at home! I think Charlie does, too, because he wants all my attention and he is wearing me down.

Please excuse the errors in my blogs – my mind is not as clear as it has been, my fingers not so nimble and the errors slip through. I’ll correct them later when I feel better. The voice recognition Dragon software is frustrating me and the internet is slow again!

2B or not 2B – that is the question!

Wednesday 20 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … Advantage CBD

Today, 42 years ago in 1969, I was twelve years old and in Std 5 (now Grade 7) at Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand. It was the day that Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon.

“One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind!” were his first and THE first human words uttered from the moon.

In 1975, on 15 July, I was fortunate to be at the Johnson Mission Control Centre in Houston,Texas– from where all American space missions are controlled and monitored – when the joint Apollo/Soyuz mission took place. It was the last Apollo mission until the shuttle programme started in 1981.

On 30 November 2000, I visited the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida from where Apollo 11 and all other American space missions are launched. There, I witnessed the awesome launching of space shuttle, Endeavour, from Launch Pad 39B.

Since the tests flights of Enterprise aboard a jumbo jet in 1977, from the launch of Columbia in 1982 to the final flight of Atlantis, there have been 355 astronauts on 135 space shuttle missions.

Challenger and Columbia were lost (the former on blast-off and the latter on re-entry), while the other three shuttles that went into space – Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis – will be preserved in museums.

Last Friday afternoon, friend Eddie Terblanche and I watched the last launch of a shuttle, Atlantis, on CNN whilst enjoying a cold one at the new Zest Urban Cafe in Walmer.

And, as I write, Atlantis is on its way back to earth for the very last time and scheduled to land at Cape Canaveral tomorrow morning at 05h57 (EST) – 11h57 (SAST).

I have been an avid space follower since my early days at Primary school and I shall be glued to the television set yet again tomorrow morning. Now, watching on TV makes it almost like being there.

However, then, in 1969, whilst the rest of the world watched that moon-trip of Apollo 11 intently on TV, we had to be content to listen to the broadcast on radio – on what was known as the “A” (English) programme. We did not have TV in South Africa yet.

That only came seven years later, in 1976, when after returning from the United States, I lived in Helshoogte Residence as a first year student at Stellenbosch University.

I originally shared Room A208 with Glynn Jones from Tulbagh. He was a medical student, later became Dr Jones, married Carol (it was to be the first of many weddings at which I officiated as the MC) and then immigrated to Canada. (I had a phone call from him a while ago from somewhere near the North Pole where he was doing medical visits to an Eskimo settlement!)

Before he emigrated, we socialised and travelled quite a bit (together with Dr Shelley Cohen and others whose names now evade me). We often visited their holiday home on the Breede River at Silver Strand near Robertson, and also did a trip to Windhoek, Etosha Pan and the Fish River Canyon in South West Africa (now Namibia).

In 1977, our second year at Stellenbosch, Glynn and my other medical student friends moved to Hippokrates and Huis Fransie Van Zyl in Tygerberg at the University’s medical school (where I would be diagnosed with CBD thirty years later in 2007).

I remained on the second floor in Helshoogte, but moved to B201 on Section 2B. A few years later, when I became a House Committee member, I moved to A701 on the seventh floor before I ended up in my final year in the Primarius’s “suite” A401/402 on section 4A.

On section 2B we wore t-shirts with a slogan “2B or not 2B” – a parody of Shakespeare‘s famous words!

This past weekend, 2B and Stellenbosch was on my mind as we headed off in pursuit of, what I call, the B’s of our South African Society – the pillars that support our way of life on the southernmost coast of the African continent:

Biltong, Braai, Beer, Brandy, Boeremusiek and Buddies!

On Friday morning, we were on our way to the Castle Lager Biltong Festival in Somerset East.

The slogan for the festival is “KOM HANG SAAM MET ONS”! Like biltong hanging out to dry, we were going to be “hanging out” with our Buddies this weekend.

First, we travelled east from Port Elizabeth along the N2 and then turned north at Nanaga along the N10, past Paterson and over the Olifantshoek Pass.

Just past Kommadagga, we passed the Schneider’s farm (Lynne was at Stellenbosh with me – in Minerva Residence) and at Middleton Manor, we stopped on the banks of the Fish River for lunch with friends Michelle and Colin van Niekerk (whose sons, Carl, Hugh and Angus have been with Sean and Phillip all these years at Grey). 

After a tasty Karoo roast (and a snooze), we moved onto Grant and Sarine Abrahamson on their farm west of Somerset East. I taught Grant in my first year of teaching at Grey and their son Anthony and daughter Abigail are now at Grey and Collegiate.

In those teaching years, I often visited Somerset East:  the Abrahamsons as well as Helena (Kitshoff) Glennie (who had also been at Stellenbosh with me, in Harmonie Residence) and Richard Glennie, who had been at Grey. (I had been MC at their wedding, too, when they got married in my home town of Somerset West!)

The Abrahamsons now run East Cape Safaris and, for supper, we joined them and their American hunter guests from Kansas USA.  With Kansas being the state just north of Oklahoma, I had lots to discuss!

 

On Saturday morning, we all headed for the show grounds in town.  There one could find more than enough of the B’s: biltong at most of the many stalls selling anything and everything from artwork to food (genuine African art – but when turned over displayed the words “Made in China!”), the Boeremusiek (blaring from the stage in the centre of the showground to the many who were seated on their camp chairs (and all the others who were walking around), the Buddies and friends who were also there, and then, of course, the beers and brandy and whatever other booze that was being served in the marquee that dominated the showgrounds. All in all, an affair displaying our truly African culture!

Late afternoon, we decided to head back to the farm for a brief lie-down and rest before we would return for the evening programme.

Well, return we did not – instead we all ended up sitting around the fire in the bouma (another South African “B”) and participating in that greatest of the South African B’s – the traditional Braaivleis!

So, it was with a sense of contentment that we headed back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday. I had left with some apprehension, as I had not travelled for some while and have been finding it more and more difficult to sit. Whilst it was uncomfortable and slightly sore, I proved that I can still do it, and hopefully will still be able to do many more trips.

I always enjoy visiting my Buddies, and together with all the other B’s, we had enjoyed yet another special weekend just “hanging out”. Thank you to all who made it possible!

“2B or not 2B?” – if that is the question, then surely there is only one answer: how truly awesome it is “2B”!

 

 

 

 

 

Toekomst

11 October 2010: 4 years 1 month on …

Phew! What a week it’s been. If the disease doesn’t kill me, then surely this hectic schedule will! And this was supposed to be my rest week!

It was exactly a year ago today that I fell and broke my elbow. That resulted in surgery and two months of having a situation of “Look Mom No Hands!”  – a sort of de’ja vu of what lies ahead. It also resulted in the writing of my e-mail “Three years on …” which was the first entry and the start of what has become this blog site and our radio programme ED is in wED. (By the way, for those who don’t know, the word blog simply comes from the contraction of the words weB  LOG … an online web-based computerised diary if you like.)

It also poured with rain on that Sunday evening that I fell down the steps and so it was exactly a year ago today that we had our last good rains in Port Elizabeth. We need that rain so desperately . .

But back to this week: On Wednesday evening I watched the Centrestage Simon & Garfunkel – CSNY show. Thursday was spent with Nadine sorting out the admin things. On Friday morning, I completed the application for a new passport with Q-4-U (anything to avoid having to go to Home Affairs again!) and then went to Vovo Telo Coffee shop in Central with Annette Jones. (I wonder how much is spent on cups of coffee on any one day in the world’s coffee shops! It must be a multimillion dollar industry that has been built up around the humble coffee mug.)

Friday afternoon was spent at the printers. In the evening we attended Bev Parker’s birthday party (not a wedding yet, but at least no funerals for a while!) In between all of that, I was trying desperately to get my Dragon voice recognition software working, but still no luck.  

Saturday morning saw an early rise in order to go to Grahamstown to watch Sean play cricket against St Andrews. We all travelled with Andrew and Cindy de Wet – despite me telling Andrew on the radio on Wednesday that I was the moer in with him for phoning me early on Wednesday morning.

For Andrew, being a farmer in the Somerset East district, seven thirty in the morning is certainly not early. But, for me, getting up in the morning is becoming more and more difficult, and 9h00 is now becoming the norm. After that, it takes a while to get the limbs moving and the head feeling a bit clearer.

Sometimes, I wish that I did not have to go to sleep at night. Then, I would not have to “defrost” in the morning. It is the time of day that I find the most difficult and have to guard most against becoming negative and depressed. It is also that time when the tears flow the easiest. It is best to get up immediately when I wake up because lying in bed is uncomfortable and leads to “woe is me”. (this morning has been one of those mornings, so writing a blog becomes a way of occupying my mind and keeping me out of the quicksand.)

Initially, I had decided not to go to Grahamstown because I was concerned about the early rising after a late evening. I also had to attend a Stellenbosch University function at the new Radisson Blu Hotel on Saturday evening which was scheduled to start at 18h00. That meant that we would have to leave Grahamstown by 16h00, and it was highly unlikely that the cricket would be finished by then.

However, Andrew agreed to leave early in order to get me back to PE on time. As luck would have it, his son went in to bat just as we were scheduled to leave. So, we left a bit later and drove like the wind. Along the way home, we got the news that our team, the Grey Seconds, had beaten St Andrews.

We got back just before six, and I hurriedly showered and sped off to Summerstrand, getting there just before six thirty! I had invited Helshoogte Old Boys to the meeting in order to establish a local branch here. A handful arrived, and I received a few e-mails of apologies. What was lacking in numbers was made up in spirit, and we will definitely have another meeting soon in order to formalise Helshoogte Old Boys Eastern Cape!

So, another late evening! And another early morning!

I had been invited by Aimee Weyer-Henderson, the head of Alexandra House at Collegiate Junior School for Girls, to speak at their House Day on Monday morning. Her father Philip had been in the 1984 Matric class – my first year of teaching – at Grey High. We had lived in the Grey boarding house together, so we have known each other for some 26 years now. (In those days, he called me Sir!)

Part of the invitation was to spend the weekend at their farm Toekomst  (Future),  between Jansenville and Somerset East, supposedly in order to firm up the requirements for the talk.

I had agreed but had forgotten to look at my diary. It was later that I discovered that I had the US function on Saturday evening, and so the supposed weekend visit became a day visit on Sunday!

Cheryl Weyer (the teacher in charge of Alexandra House) and her husband, Mark, long-time friends from the days when Pera taught at Collegiate, were also invited, and they kindly picked us up at 07h30.

Off to the Karoo for Sunday lunch. We arrived at 09h30, did the coffee and koeksister  thing, then headed off in the cut-off Kia bus (that is the game ranging vehicle!) for a tour of the farm (and the two new pivots!) and a view of the Darlington Dam and Johnny’s little shack at the dam that he is busy building. (Johnny is Philip’s ‘little’ brother that I taught a few years after Philip, and Pera has taught Johnny’s son (the next generation) at Grey Junior.)

It is here, in the Karoo, that one can see the true extent of the devastating drought that we are experiencing. Even the thorn trees are dying! The only green are the fields being irrigated by the pivots – also visible if you Google Earth those surroundings:  an oasis of green in an otherwise large arid and brown desert-like area. The farmers here are also experiencing their problems and challenges that life has thrown at them.

Indeed, the Toekomst looks bleak if we don’t get rain soon. We need that rain so desperately . . .

After the little tour, a few icy cold frosties were very welcome in the air-conditioned pub in the homestead.  And then a superb lunch of roast Karoo lamb and venison (kudu) and all the trimmings – including a magnificent dessert of the best tarted up ice-cream I have had in a long while.

After lunch, the young ladies challenged the adults to a game of 30 Seconds, and, despite the cheating, the adults won comfortably!

 Thanks Philip and Lise for a wonderful day. Although, we didn’t spend too much time planning for the House Day on Monday, we headed off home after having spent a few wonderful hours with you and your family.

I still had to think about what I was going to discuss with the young Collegiate girls. That was Sunday evening’s chore, and I fell asleep doing that!

So, Monday morning was yet another early one. Firstly, to finish off my speech – hastily scribbled on pieces of scrap paper and entitled LIVING POSITIVELY. And then, to rush off to the school to deliver the speech to the hall full of 500 girls, some parents and some staff members.

What a delight it was to see the manner in which they responded to my talk and to my questions. I will document that speech in yet another blog.

But, after having interacted with those girls on Monday, and on Sunday, and with Sean’s matric friends the previous weekend, I am left feeling that we are so fortunate that our children are being well-educated at our city schools.

Our TOEKOMST is in their hands, and they would appear to be good hands. The sad part is that those good hands, in many cases, will be lost to our city, to our province and, most probably, to our country.

There is still so much to do to ensure our TOEKOMST and our children’s TOEKOMST  in this southern part of Africa. We need THAT political rain so desperately, too . . .