Here’s a picture (circa 1966) that I found in a shoe box of pictures. It’s a rainy day scene at my family’s house in Vereeniging, South Africa, where I grew up. I’m not sure if the picture was taken to capture the soggy grounds, or the Cadillac in the driveway! Maybe both.
Some some ten years later, in 1975, the low-lying areas of Vereeniging would flood, during a wet summer season, and muddy river water would creep up to within an inch or two of flooding my parents’ home. We were very grateful that the wooden floors and everything in the house were spared.
All that remained at my mom’s house at the end of Monday were paintings on the walls, boxes with documents, and stuff in the back yard.
My brother and I stopped several times while we went through the stuff to check out documents. Some go back 30 years, and the set of Chambers’s Encyclopædia goes back – oh, about a hundred years!
I finally got a quote for shipping three pieces of artwork to Seattle : SAfr R 22,619 (which is US$ 2,310). What! Are they wrapping the items in gold foil? I said. Turned out that is for sending it by airplane, that’s why it’s so expensive.
So we had another appraiser come out and provide a quote based on volume. They fill up a shipping container with items that go to the same city, or at least to the same area, overseas. It will probably be a few hundred dollars for me.
We lost our friend Robin to cancer recently. She passed away on June 15, 2014 after a long and courageous battle, at age 60. As her sister Kate told us, “Our bird has gotten her wings.” She was able to spend the last few months of her life in Cincinnati with her sister Kate, step-father, and many nieces and nephews.
So Robin’s good friends Ken and Steve hosted a commemoration today for us : just a few of Robin’s friends and colleagues, telling stories of how she touched our lives.
I had the removal of one of the three big trees in my back yard scheduled for this past Friday, and it went ahead even though I was traveling. The arborist that took the tree out stopped by today (just to say he planted a sign out on the sidewalk to advertise his business). Seattle City Light had to take the power line coming into the house by the corner down for the day, and it took them until 12 noon on Friday to get here – but after that everything went well. (Yes, I don’t like to take out trees, but this one has been making trouble for me for a number of years by giving squirrels access to the roof, dumping pine needles into the gutter, and it’s in the way of a new fence that has to go in right about where it stands).
It was a very emotion-filled day for the family, starting with pulling together all the logistics for my dad’s memorial service : the flowers, the pamphlets to hand out, the tributes from my dad’s four sons each (that the minister was to read; we could not trust ourselves to do it), the refreshments to go with the tea for the guests, and the cash payments in envelopes for the staff at the church. But everything went without a hitch, and we took pictures of the family afterwards. The four brothers together made for a rare picture : two from the United States, and one from Australia joining the one that is in Stellenbosch.
Our family received very bad news today. My dad passed away somewhat unexpectedly today at the age of 79, on Monday tonight in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
He leaves behind my mom (to whom he had been married some 55 years), his four sons, seven grandchildren and a brother.
He was born in 1934 in the district of Calvinia
in the Cape Province of South Africa, the middle one of three boys.
He was a mechanical engineer, a no-nonsense kind of guy that said once : there’s no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, just follow the logic, and there you have your answer. For a large part of his career he was the managing director of a small tools manufacturing factory in our home town of Vereeniging, where I attended both primary school and high school.
In his spare time my dad loved to work with metal and especially iron. He could design and make anything from garden furniture to trailers for his motorbikes and boats. He also installed a small-block racing engine in one of his beloved Chevrolet trucks, a truck that took the whole family on many tours through Botswana and Namibia. He and my mom also oversaw and had built a number of houses, two of them in Vereeniging, and most of the others in the coastal town of Plettenberg Bay where the family would spend a few weeks for many summers.
We will all miss him very much. We feel blessed and lucky to have had him for a long time.
The picture : One of my favorites, one that I took in 1985 of mom and dad in Vereeniging in South Africa.
So .. how did this happen? (Broken rear view mirror on the driver side of my venerable 1996 Toyota Camry Driving Machine). Well, it really wasn’t my fault .. I had the car parked flush to the curb while I was at dinner on Friday night. When we arrived back at the car, I noticed the damage. The perpetrator left a note and a phone number on the windshield, though, explaining that she clipped the mirror while driving, and damaging it. (Which I really appreciated. It makes a big difference knowing it was an accident and the person is owning up to it, as opposed to me thinking it was a random act of vandalism). She will send me a check for the damage. The Toyota garage is ordering a new mirror and housing. There are only two such mirrors with metallic blue housings left in the country, said the spare parts guy. Which makes me wonder what I would have done if there had been none. The options would have been 1. Pick another color. (Maybe); 2. Go hunt in scrap yards for blue 1996 Toyota Camrys. (No); 3. Do nothing. (No); 4. Use it as an excuse to get a new car? The straw that broke the camel’s back. (Maybe!).
So, here we are at August 19, 2010and it’s my 49th birthday. Yes, I’m going for it! – the big five-oh. There’s no stopping me! : ).
But first today’s stop at 49. The card in my hand shows 七七 qī qī seven sevens (equals 49), written in simplified Mandarin. I don’t have a cake here in China, but I plan to go to Hong Kong for the weekend tomorrow. It just happened that three of us from work made have plans to go to the fancy Felix restaurant on top of the Peninsula Hotel. So we will have a toast for my birthday there.
And since I love numbers, here are some references to the number 49 that I like :
* 49 is the square of 7 and is therefore the fourth squared prime number.
* It is the atomic number of indium.
* It is the number of strings on a harp.
* The 49th parallel runs between Canada and the USA.
* The 49th State of the USA is Alaska.
* The term 49er is the moniker of one who participated in the 1849 California Gold Rush, as well as the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
No, it’s not your eyes .. the picture’s quality really is that bad. My apologies – but it’s all I have to prove I actually went out and played tennis tonight. The temperature chart below is for Dameisha, and it shows average highs of 34 C (92 F). The humidity is what really matters and boy, most mornings at the bus stop I pull out my hand towel and wipe my face and neck and arms.