Peacock Feathers by Daphne Jaaback

From an early age, our son, Ken, realized that monetary coins were different from all other circular or cylindrical objects. They had a unique  swappable  value. Marbles could be swapped for marbles, precious stones for precious stones but coins could be swapped for anything, dependent only on the size of the thing.

At a sea-side shop  he spied a brightly coloured beach ball which he had to have. He was two years old at the time so he didn’t  have his own stash of coins. He pulled my arm and asked for one. He proceeded to the counter , proffered the coin to the assistant and pointed to the ball of choice. He was disappointed that no change was forthcoming. The assistant explained that he could have a smaller ball and that purchase would give him an additional coin. Ken happily went that route. Perhaps this was his first lesson in spending according to one’s means.

Years later we moved to an area close to a tree lined park , the centre piece of which was a small dam. The latter was home to small fish, frogs and a host of other fascinating water creatures. Peacocks, herons and other birds inhabited the lush surrounding s.

Armed with rods of stick, string and hook our children  used to head to the water. They would thread worms onto the hooks and spend many happy hours   catching tiddlers. Ken would  sometimes sell these fish at our gate.

One afternoon they discovered a dead peacock and carried it home for burial. Before lowering it into the hastily dug grave, Ken insisted on plucking half a dozen feathers. He had heard that the owning of a peacock feather brought good luck.

Next day he stood outside our front gate and placed the jar of feathers, with a ‘For Sale’ notice, on a rock. He did brisk business and  pocketed  the proceedings.

That night he seemed restless and I wondered whether he was unwell.

Early in the morning I caught sight of him by the grave. He appeared to be exhuming the peacock. He then carefully placed some small objects on top of the body and covered it up.

“Ken, what are you doing?”

“I felt so sorry for the turkey that I had to give him the money.”



To me a good book is ….  a magic carpet that whisks me away to other places, other people, excitement, wonder, new ideas, different scenes, strange sensation, no matter whether they be  enchanting, terrifying or bizarre.

Through a book one can experience altered reality without any electronic intervention (cyber games) or without the aid of mind-bending drugs. And all for the price of a book. Granted,  these days, your book might be a hefty price – the top end of R200 or in lucky instances, a charity-sale buy for a few rands,  but these bargains are rare.

I enjoy travelling via a good travel book. Now that I’m growing older, long distance flights and the maelstrom of airports are a daunting prospect, but: pick up your book and in a flash you’re in the olive groves of Italy, the mountains of the Hindu Kush, the African bushveld, the snow of Alaska, the exotica of the Asian countries, the glitz of Manhattan – unlimited travel, but alas, no Frequent Flyer Miles. On the plus side, no jet lag, foreign languages and no horrendous foreign currency exchange rates. If you’re yearning for the tastes and smells, you can visit a local ethnic restaurant, armed with your book of course, and you can order dim sum, or sauerkraut, or – if all else fails – phone the local takeaway and order a curry!

A good book is as good as – or better than – any movie, TV show, or theatre experience. You have the flexibility to pick it up or put it down, entirely at your convenience. You can read for five minutes, or all night, if that is what you want to do.  You can scream with delight or horror, giggle uncontrollably, you can cry unreservedly, in privacy.  How often have I come out of a really sad movie, with aching throat and a heavy lump of sadness in my chest, from suppressed tears? When all I wanted to do was sob loudly, but because I was in public, I was too inhibited. But at home, on your sofa, book in hand, you can wail, weep, sniffle, sob, until your nose runs and you are exhausted, and so is your box of Kleenex tissues.

Just as you can weep without restraint, watering the pages with your tears, you can giggle, roar with laughter, snigger, or scream in horror, and the only person you’ll disturb might be a vaguely startled cat, jerked momentarily from its slumbers.

So: a good book is the key to enjoyment, or a key to the suffering of the universal human condition (try any of the classic Russian novelists), a transporter to an escape from mundane life, a source of information and pleasure.  There is just no substitute for a GOOD BOOK!

Counting sheep by Daphne Jaaback

To sleep ,perchance to dream

Sleep does need a scheme

Some  do  count the sheep

A seamless dream to reap

Another plan have I

As in bed I lie


I tab each operation

To encourage some sedation

I work from toes to head

As I lie there in my bed

While listing all of them

Sleep occurs  as REM




A slip at the gym

Put a toe out of trim

Veins  varicose

(I begin to doze)

Hips replaced

Sarcoma traced


Burst appendix

And uterus  fix

Tonsils removed

And teeth improved

A dive too close

And a broken nose.

Moving House by Zonie Williams

They say ageing is not for sissies….neither is moving house, for a second time, in two years.

“Use small boxes,” a friend advised.

“It’s easier to move around once you start unpacking.” Good advice I thought.

After a week of packing in small boxes the packers at the local grocery store had to pick up the pace of unpacking.  I needed more boxes than I ever thought possible.

Discovering long lost items when packing is one positive experience of moving house.

It doesn’t matter how well restored, looked after and polished your antique furniture is.  Scattered on the driveway, it’s  just another disorderly mess. How they ever manage to get my worldly possessions into, what looked to me, a very confined space, I’ll never know. Wonder of wonders everything was squeezed, stacked and disappeared into the bowels of the removal van.   Eventually the clumsy vehicle chugged away and the furniture arrived without scratches and damage at the destination.

Directing seven sturdily built Zimbabweans to place the furniture in the different rooms in amuch smaller area presented another problem. Muddy shoes on newly steam cleaned carpets, just  part of the fun!  At last boxes were stacked, furniture more or less placed so we could move around and were able to start unpacking.

My daughter, an organizer to be reckoned with and a “no sentimental stuff” policy, was  helping  me to create order out of chaos. As the truck pulled away we were already opening boxes and unwrapping the crockery. No time to sit down and enjoy the cuppa, a kind neighour brought over. We had to sip while we unpacked.

“Surely you don’t use this enamel plate anymore?” My trusted, unchipped blue plate, gets turned around, inspected and put on a pile to be sorted later. Sorted in this instance means discarded.

“I use that plate for the egg mixture when frying fish. It is deep and has a big base.”


“I remember this white glass vase…’ve had it forever. I haven’t seen you putting flowers in it for a long time?”

“Arums arranged in the vase will look good and I saw some in this garden.”

She just lifted her eyebrow and put it at the back of the kitchen cupboard.

Well, I saved another item.

Late afternoon, after unpacking most of the crockery, my daughter, stacking empty boxes suggested,

“Maybe we should make your bed now. Always good to know a nice warm place is waiting after all the stress of the day.”

Sleeping seemed ages away.

A loud noise from the kitchen interrupted my dreams of sleeping.

“Sorry dear, I dropped the microwave!”  I looked at the warped oven, the broken door creating a toothless smile. My husband standing with his hands at his side, helpless and contrite.

“Well, more space on the kitchen counter now.”

As I said, moving house is not for the faint hearted.

Oh, for another cup of tea.

In Pursuit of Stardom by Daphne Jaaback

Our glamorous lodger burst  into  the  room

“Turn on the TV, channel 3  and  there’s  me”

Ten stories up, she   was  there  on the screen

A dare devil stunt  to  enhance her CV


A tight rope maneuver  across the main street

“If my mother knew she’d  sure throw a fit”

“Her TV is on the blink, thank goodness for that”

Harnessed for safety, she failed to make it.


An ongoing challenge, Fear Factor its name,

“Thank goodness I failed  for the next one is worse

Eating live roaches  , that is simply bizarre

The thought turns my stomach, its utterly gross”


The whole scene inspired me to reach for the sky

I asked her advice for the way to proceed

“Ring  Stardom Talent and mention my name”

I made the decision and followed her lead.


Photo graphs taken both front and profile

Measurements all, from top to toe

Also noted   was the size  of  shoe

I felt keyed up and ready to go.



I kept my hopes alight as the months went by

Castings aplenty came my way

I followed instructions ,  performed  the parts

But few were the call backs I’m sad to say.


At last directions were given to   film   shoot

Vatican treasures were part of the theme

I was cast as a nun in habit and veil

A three legged dog was in the same scene!


When not on set instructions were clear

Extras must stay within a marked space

Beside me did sit one troubled female

As words poured forth,   I kept a straight face


I felt restrained to behave myself

A crucifix embellished my apparent role

Unable to escape this outpouring

I just stopped short of blessing this soul


Eating fruit salad for almost five hours

A restaurant scene in a film of intrigue

Denzel Washington a star, but not in my scene

My grandchildren think that I’m in the same league!


As  only an extra   it was hard to distinguish

The instant yours truly was  part of the joint

Should blinking occur, you’d miss my days work

Except for that  dog which helped to pin point.


Then photo library with multiple stills

Permission given for subsequent sale

Frequent repair of make-up and wardrobe

A  feeling  of stardom, a fairy tale.


A step up the ladder came out of the blue

From extra to ‘artiste’ for a cordial concern

Competitive ping pong was centre stage

I whacked the ball  and  money  did earn.

The Mountain Top by Corinna Turner


 I stand upon the mountain top

And gaze around me, far and wide.

The ocean mist nibbles the mountains skirts

On every other side.


Were it not that I’d been down there,

But a short while ago,

I would think of an apocalypse

Nowhere doth land and sea show.


The tourists, from far and away,

Came to see the view.

But all that they can really spy

Is frothy, billowy white, oh aye,

Hiding it from their eyes.


Down below, the underside,

Creates a gloom like a stormy sky,

Whilst way up here, on the mountain top,

The early sun shines orange,

Bathing all with a soft edged, golden glow.


The dassies don’t seem to mind.



It’s really quite ridiculous. Here I am, retired, and finding myself without a second to even sneeze. Busy, busy, busy. Friends phone me up to arrange a coffee date, and we find ourselves one or two weeks hence  into our diaries … because its ten days before I have a free slot – crazy! Anybody would think I was a top flight executive. Any day now I’ll need a Social Secretary to manage my diary. People often say “You keep yourself so busy!” either in tones of admiration or condemnation (delete inapplicable).  Not so. I’m not deliberately  trying to keep busy.  It’s just that there are so many interesting things to do or see. Plus there are my weekly addictive sessions with Mah Jongg and Scrabble. Not giving those up!



And then there’s the theory that as you age, time speeds up in an inverse ratio to your age – or something – I’ve never grasped that. I know I should, but I haven’t.  I remember, when I was about 5 or 6 years old, how it took FOREVER for Christmas and your birthday to come around again, whereas nowadays I’m clutching my forehead and gasping, only another 62 days until Christmas – where did the year go??   Never mind the Christmas juggernaut rolling towards us – lately I wake up in the morning, and find that its Friday again,! Dammit, we just had  Friday! Where on earth did the week get to? I’m definitely running out of time.


Recently a psychic told me I have another 20 years left to me before I depart this mortal plane. Yes, well, no fine … On the one hand I was immensely cheered because it means I now have time to finish my Fantasy novels. And it may take that long. I felt as if I’d been given a gift: another twenty years! Wow!  But on the bad days, it doesn’t seem like such a bonanza. There’s an old saying “Man proposes, God disposes”. Perhaps the best thing to do is live each day as best we can. An old song had the line  yesterday is history, tomorrow still a mystery  and all we really have is NOW, just this moment, as the Buddhists would say. And this moment. And this moment.  That old American hippie, Ram Dass, once wrote a book titled “Be Here Now”. Pretty good advice.

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