Goodbye and Good Luck Mr. A.

Well here I am, still in one piece on the right side of the move. To say it was a hectic few days would be an understatement, with the NJ family arriving to stay a few days before we had to be out of the house. As you can imagine trying to divide our time between packing and attending to five guests, was like juggling with elliptical balls. Hubby met them at the airport at some time after midnight last Saturday. We did manage to have two lunches with them them at the restaurant by the pool, and also dinner on the Sunday evening to celebrate Max’s 5th birthday. On the Monday they drove to Naples for a night at the Ritz-Carlton resort, arriving back the next evening with laundry to do, before spending the morning at our club pool and departing for Disney World only the day before the removals van arrived. I was in a ‘flat spin’ as my Gran used to say, but I managed to get everything done.

Last Monday evening, when I was cooking dinner, I saw three people with fishing rods sitting by the lake outside our house. On investigation, we found out that they were trappers called in by our next door neighbour. I felt really sick for Mr. A, and hoped he wouldn’t be caught.

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They did catch one that evening, but it was a smaller one nicknamed ‘Sarah Palin’ by a new neighbour a couple of houses away. When I went outside to check that it wasn’t Mr. A, the poor thing was lying on the grass with its mouth all duct taped up.

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It was bundled into the truck, to be taken to meet its fate.

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Not a happy chappy at all.

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The young lady trapper assured me that ‘Sarah’ wouldn’t be killed, but would go to an alligator breeding farm. I have a feeling that her long term prospects aren’t good though. Today I had an e-mail from the neighbour saying that ‘Donald Trump’ has also been captured and his mouth taped up, plus another smaller alligator. Three down two to go.  Mr. A, who is the biggest by far, is still at large and I hope he will keep his wits about him and manage to evade the duct tape wielding trappers. On Thursday, my last day at the house, after all the furniture and boxes had gone, I stayed behind to clean up, with my camera handy for a few last photos. Mr. A was cruising around the lake, probably looking for his buddies. I think his long, lazy days of basking in the sun could be over. Hubby saw him quite close to the house on our side of the lake when he went over yesterday to meet the agent for the walk through. As soon as Mr. A spotted him, he scooted back into the water. He’s probably very nervous  of humans now, knowing that his friends have been taken away by them.

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On a happier note, I did get one last profile of Mr. GBH as I bid him a fond farewell. He said that he’s going to miss being a celebrity on WP and thanks you all for your kind comments.

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Woody wood stork just nodded a curt ‘Goodbye’ as he did one last stalk past.

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When the sun came out, Miss Anhinga put on a beautiful final display especially for you all. “Wow…..look at me now!”

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Even the shy Miss Rosie spoonbill came along for a last photo.

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The Small Blue Heron looked slightly ruffled when I told him I was leaving, as we’d only met a couple of weeks ago and were just becoming acquainted.

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Great Egret  still hasn’t apologised for eating my poor little Lizzie in December, but I’m over it now and we’ll let bygones be bygones.

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Last but not least, are the noisy Egyptian geese who although they didn’t want to be left out of this post, wouldn’t come any closer. They said that they really don’t like goodbyes.

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So this is the end of an era for my stories of Mr. A and his many ‘friends’. Wish him luck as you wave him goodbye.

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Hope you’re all having a great weekend. I’ll be back to visit you all over the next couple of days, and I’ll tell you how I’m enjoying living in our half-finished house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wordless from Wednesday

This morning, these cormorants reminded me that I really do need to get my ducks in a row, as moving day is getting closer, and the family, all five of them, arrive on Saturday at midnight.

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Please excuse me if I’m wordless on your blogs, as well as on mine for a few days. I have to take a break until the coast is clear again. I’ll really miss you all, but hopefully I’ll resurface very soon. xx

Mundane Monday : Anyone for a round of Golf?

So, it’s official……….Mr. A isn’t the only alligator around here. Yesterday, whilst he was sunning himself on the opposite bank,

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we spotted two more, just a short distance away on our side of the lake, right next to the the golf course! All three clearly visible from our patio.

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Maybe I can kidnap one and take him over to the new place, without anyone noticing. What do you think of the plan? I’m sure the removals truck will be big enough, and there’ll be two strong guys to help lift him. On the other hand, if the two laying next to one another here are an item, there could well be some babies. Perhaps it’s a good job we’re moving .

I’m linking this to Photrablogger’s ‘Mundane Monday’ challenge. I’ve gotten so used to seeing Mr. A hanging around here, that the sight of his relatives is quite mundane. What a handsome lot they are! Wishing you all a very happy February. I think mine is going to be anything but mundane, the way things are shaping up. 🙂

 

 

My roof’s got a hole in it and I might drown.

Finally, last week, the roofing contractor started work on replacing the roof of our house in Florida. When we were looking to buy a house there three years ago, we saw this one and really liked it.

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Unfortunately it was a bank repossession, and to negotiate to buy it would have been a very long term thing, so we bought another house instead. This house had been abandoned by the owner, because he couldn’t afford to get the roof repaired after it was damaged in a hurricane. Three years later, just before we left to come back to South Africa for six months, we learned that it was still standing empty, and that the bank had, in the meantime, turned down a couple of offers on it. We decided to try putting in an offer to purchase, and to persevere until we got the bank to sell to us. Of course, by this time, the roof was in a much worse condition; some of the ceilings had collapsed, and the poor house looked quite a wreck inside.

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It was the wonderful view from the lounge which really waved to us.

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In May, after lots of haggling over the price, we were overjoyed to hear that the bank had finally decided to accept our offer. Of course, the first thing to do once we got possession, was to organise to get the roof replaced. We chose a contractor and hubby got all the necessary permits sorted out, but because of torrential rains, the roofing guy only managed to complete the other jobs he had, last week.

We were so excited when he sent us a message to say that he had actually started work on ours, and he sent us a few photos of the progress.

The clay tiles are being delivered today, so the job should soon be completed and we can heave a huge sigh of relief. I’ll no longer have to sing this song every time I look at the weather for Florida, and see that it’s raining again. 🙂

The transformation from a home to merely a house.

“Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” ~ John Howard Payne

The deed is done and the keys handed over. The end of another era of our life together.

My little study at the top of the stairs, which used to be my favourite place to sit and blog,

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today looked like this.

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Our dining room which has been the scene of many a delicious meal and family gatherings,

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is now just an empty shell.

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Someone else will get to walk through the magic gate and down onto the beach.

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Tonight, there’s absolutely nothing to bear witness that we were ever there; not even an eyelash in the bathroom. (I made quite sure of that.) I hope the new owner will be as happy there as we’ve been for the past twelve years.

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Now for the next exciting chapter.

 

 

Keeping my head above water.

“Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on.” ~ Jimmy Buffett

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It’s almost done. There have been times in the past few weeks when I’ve felt as if I was drowning in ‘stuff’, and there was so much more still to do. Restless nights were the order of the day. (That does sound a bit Irish, doesn’t it?)

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I had to keep telling myself, “This too shall pass,” and of course it will. The removals guys have been fantastic, and have carefully packed all our belongings to be taken into storage for a while. Tomorrow the big van will arrive, and the house will be empty and ready for its next owner. Of course it doesn’t look like my home anymore, so I feel quite detached from it and have no regrets about leaving it.

We are now living just down the road in a very comfortable ground floor apartment. The thoughtful owner had left us a bottle of champagne in the fridge, a bowl of fruit, a box of cookies, and even a vase of flowers. Our temporary home has everything we need for now, and after tomorrow we’ll be able to relax and enjoy our last few weeks here at the beach.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
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High Tea and Nostalgia.

On  my Birthday, I took a break from sorting and packing, and off we went to meet my sister for High Tea at the Oyster Box. Here are a few pics of our splendid afternoon there, sipping sparkling wine, drinking tea from fine china cups, and sampling the many delights from the buffet. This amazing hotel is going to feature very high on my nostalgic memory list when we leave this lovely bit of paradise.

Me on my 'Birthday Throne' in the foyer.

Me on my ‘Birthday Throne’ in the foyer.

Click on any photo to see gallery.

When I opened my birthday greetings on FaceBook, I saw that my daughter had dug up a photo of the two of us, taken over 40 years ago. How’s that for nostalgia? I can recall making those dresses, as though it were yesterday.

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Only two more sleeps in this house, and then the removals people come to pack up all our stuff to go into storage. I have butterflies in my tummy.

Time to say “Goodbye.”

So, my piano is gone. After thirty-one years of bonding and companionship, we have sadly parted company. This morning when I came downstairs, it looked quite forlorn, and I felt really sad. The empty cabinets in the dining room bore witness to the fact that something is afoot. That lovely, but sad song, “Time to say goodbye,” popped into my mind, and I remembered my school pupils singing it to me, thirteen years ago, on my last day of teaching music in Johannesburg. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and I felt the same sort of emotion today.

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Just after 8-30, the removals van arrived, and soon my home was a hive of activity. All I could hear above the cheerful but very loud voices of the work team, was the sound of bubble-wrap sheeting being cut, and adhesive tape being pulled. Soon my piano was cosily wrapped up, and all that needed to be done was to take off the legs and pedal lyre.

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When my other piano was delivered in Florida, it took only two men to bring it in and assemble it. They had a special trolley with wheels, which made it much easier. Here, we had six men plus the foreman, and they still battled to get it out of the house. There was much huffing and puffing and chanting too. “Hai-wetu…..Hai-wetu…..Hai-wetu!” …… the Zulu equivalent of “Heave-ho, me hearties.”

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Well, now they and my piano are gone, along with my dining room suite, spare bedroom suite, TV + cabinet, two standing lamps, and sewing machine. The shipment should arrive at our daughter’s house early next week. I’m suddenly starting to believe that this move is for real.

I wish you all a great weekend.

Sand Between the Toes for Jo’s Monday Walk Challenge.

Jo is away this week, but we can always join in her Monday Walk Challenge. As some of you may know, my home in South Africa is on the east coast, just north of Durban. Not for much longer though, as we have recently sold and will be moving out in just a few weeks. It’s a busy and emotional time at the moment, as of course we must decide what to take with us to our home in Florida, and what to sell or give away. Our place here is already looking quite bare in places, as several items of furniture have been sold. Today, I’m supposed to be sorting through my bookcase, but thought I’d just do a quick post first. My unwanted books are going to help raise funds for the animal anti-cruelty league here, so at least I know that my loss will be the animals’ gain.

Now, if you have a few minutes to spare, you are welcome to come for a walk along the beach with me.  Shorts, T-shirt and flip flops will be just fine. Out of the front door and just down the driveway to the beach and the Indian Ocean.

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It’s necessary to secure our complex from unwanted intruders, so we have fencing all around it, and a gate which requires an access code.

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Until the really bad storms of March 2007, there was a level path which led through trees and bushes onto the beach, but overnight, we suddenly had a ten foot drop and had to put in wooden steps. The benches here are dedicated to the memory of three former residents.

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The first two lots of steps got washed away. but things have now been pretty stable for the the past few years, and these  have survived.

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The devastating high tides, were a real wake-up call to the residents along the shoreline, who have since been busy with a substantial dune rehabilitation project, which apart from protecting against further coastal erosion, has also seen an increase in birds and other wildlife.

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It looks quite messy, but appears to be working well.

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We chose to walk south today, instead of up towards the lighthouse, pier and hotels, which I’ve often showed to you. As you can see, it’s not at all busy on this part of the beach. It’s slightly hazy today, but you if you look carefully, you can make out the city of Durban in the distance, and just to the right of centre, is the roof of the ‘Moses Mabhida’ Stadium which was built for the Soccer World Cup in 2010. This stadium was named in honour of the leader of the South African Communist Party from 1978 until his death in 1986, who is considered by our present government to be a  ‘struggle hero’ of the liberation movement against apartheid.

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There are always a few cargo ships out there, waiting to offload their containers at Durban harbour.

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This part of the beach is very popular with fishermen who are almost exclusively from our Indian community. I’m assuming that the pink hat doesn’t belong to this man.

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Here are two young ladies who appeared to be getting a fishing lesson. This is the first time I’ve seen a long-sleeved white collared shirt and black leather ‘winkle-pickers’ on the beach.

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There are some really big houses along here, and this is one that lost much of its back garden as well as its swimming pool, during the 2008 high tides. It must have been rather scary for the owners to wake up and find the waves crashing against their house.

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A little further along, is the seaside retreat of South Africa’s best known evangelical ‘Preacher Man’ Pastor Ray McCauley, a former night club bouncer, who after winning the ‘Mr South Africa’ title, went on to come third in the 1974 Mr Universe Championships in London. He is the founder of the most powerful church in the country, with a membership of over 45,000. He has been said to lead a millionaire’s lifestyle, and flies up to Johannesburg by private jet most weekends to preach to his adoring followers. His Harley used to be parked regularly outside our gym, although I haven’t seen it for a while.

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Even farther along, hidden somewhere in this forest, is the Oppenheimer’s retirement mansion. Harry Oppenheimer was a South African gold and diamond magnate, and one of the world’s richest men, who used his great wealth and considerable influence in the fight against apartheid. He died in 200o, and his wife Brigitte died in 2013.

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We usually turn around and head for home when we get to this dead tree. It’s weird to think that it was once part of the forest, and now stands alone on the sandy beach.

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We decided to take a different way home, up a secluded path which leads to the road.

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If I’d been on my own, I certainly wouldn’t have gone this way.

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Along the road is a house which has been under construction for at least three years, and finally seems to be nearing completion.

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My favourite house along here is this one, which must have cost a small fortune. I’m sure that being so high up, it will have the most fantastic sea views. It really has kerb appeal too.

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Then it’s quick march back up the road towards home for tea and brownies. I hope you enjoyed your walk with me, and I’m sorry you can’t join me for tea.

On the subject of houses, we had a message today to say that our offer on the other house in Florida, has finally been accepted, so now we need to organise a roofing guy, to replace that leaking roof. There’ll be a lot of work to do inside, once we get back there in September. It will certainly keep hubby out of mischief, and give me lots to blog about.

To see more entries for Jo’s ‘Monday Walk Challenge’, just click on the link provided here.