Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Cat-astrophe and Other Short Stories

It's hard for me to have a bad day in South Africa. The reason is that something so funny, unbelievable, touching or unexpected ends up happening to make me laugh and forget any troubles. 

I woke up today resolving to have a G.A. That's what my friend Staci refers to as a Good Attitude. It's also the opposite of a B.A. which is the Bad Attitude which I had all day yesterday. 

I went to the nail salon in an effort to lift my spirits. I know I sound like (and probably am) a whiny housewife but bear with me on this.

So I'm talking to Violet, the lady who does my nails, and I'm telling her I might have to move and poor me blah blah. She agrees that moving is a pain and then she tells me how she moved here from Zimbabwe.

Before she moved here, she commuted here from Zim leaving her children behind with her parents while she came here to work. She would only return to Zim every two weeks to see her two kids. She started this commute when her youngest child was only three months old. She did this commute for two years before she finally moved here with her kids and her husband about three years ago. She told me how bad things were in Zim. There was never any electricity - load shedding every day  - and there also wasn't any water coming out of the taps. There was always a shortage of paraffin or any type of fuel to cook with so they had to cook outside using firewood. Firewood became so scarce that people were cutting wood right off the trees and trying to burn it. If you've ever tried to burn green wood then you know it's pretty much impossible.

So that shut me up about my petty problems. 

Then she told me a story about what happened to her Monday night. She was excited because she had the day off from the salon on Tuesday and she was hoping to sleep late. Unfortunately she was woken up at 4:00 a.m. by screams coming from her neighbor's house. It sounds like she lives in an apartment or townhouse complex where her house is connected to another house. Anyway, she hears this woman screaming and she knows that she is pregnant so she figures she is just having some kind of pain and she and her husband go over to the neighbors to ask them to keep the noise down. They walk in the house and the neighbor woman is on the toilet giving birth and the baby is half way in and halfway out. The woman is screaming, the woman's boyfriend is screaming and Violet was "traumatized" because she saw more of her neighbor's anatomy than she needed to and she has never seen anyone giving birth before. The neighbor's boyfriend said he tried to call an ambulance but the baby was coming too fast. Violet's husband put the baby, the neighbor and the still-attached umbilical cord into the car and took them to the hospital. The baby and the mother are fine.

Next, as I was leaving the salon I got this SMS from the security/management company where we live. This message was sent to all residents and I have copied it here verbatim.

Morning Residents. We have been receiving complaints about cats that get into other people's houses and sit on the couches and beds. For the most recent incident please check at the traffic circle. The truth here is people who do not own cats have reasons why they dont whether personal or medical reasons and should not be terrorized by other peoples cats. We will be helping those who can not control their cats by engaging SPCA . By Estate Mngnt.

Is this not the most hilarious note ever written? When they say the traffic circle they mean that they have posted an 8x10 picture of the offending cat on a tree at the traffic circle in the neighborhood. This is a traffic circle that everyone who comes in or out has to drive around. They could have SMS'd the picture of the cat with the note but they seem to prefer going the town square public shaming route instead.

This is not the first time there has been an SMS about a cat causing problems and this is not the first time a feline criminal has had his or her photo displayed in the square. When we first moved here a cat stood accused of going to the bathroom on people's lawns. That cat, who Mr. Deep and I nicknamed Fuge (short for fugitive) still lives in the neighborhood and somehow avoided being carted off by the SPCA. I was glad to see that the cat causing trouble today was not Fuge because I doubt he would get a stay of execution if he were caught as a second offender and he really is quite cute and sweet. 

The circle. You don't want to find your photo hanging here!
The home invader. I need to make up a name for this cat. Suggestions are welcome!


  1. The Violet story is a classic. it makes us ALL sound like spoiled housewives. There is this game I play when I find myself griping about the grocery shopping. Which takes me like 2 hours beginning to end, with the drive there and packing away. 2 hours! So annoying! So then I force myself to think back to my grandmother during and post WWII in Germany. How to get food on the table she had to send the kids out to collect acorns of something that could be traded for their oil against something else, like a half a cup of butter. How slaughtering a hog was a whole-day affair so that everything could be used and cut and preserved. Etc etc. She would have totally dreamed of a week's worth of groceries taking only 2 hours. And then she would have read her entire collection of Agatha Christie in her spare time because she wouldn't have wasted it on Facebook and Pinterest.

    1. It is true we are very fortunate and privileged and I am constantly reminded of it - in a good way. Violet is the best. She was so matter of fact about what she was telling me. Except about the birth which was a little much for her!

  2. Replies
    1. He (or she) does look like Casper!

    2. Plus she's a friendly ghost!
      (Joanie-Stan's friend)

  3. Joanie, I know you! You're not JUST Stan's friend but also a long time amazing volunteer for LLS. Thanks for reading my blog :) I hope all is well with you.

  4. I wonder how the cat gets past the electric fencing? Those Zim stories are so sad. One of the greatest countries in Africa turned into a cesspool. Hopefully it will change for them once Mugabe dies.

    1. The electric fencing does not go around each home. It's just around the estate perimeter.


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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.