Last week we had the rains and the whole Western Cape turned into a disaster area, with many people displaced and some villages in the mountains rendered inaccessible by road. This was followed by a cold snap, and snow was seen on the mountains in the surrounding areas. The snow had some entertainment value for South Africans, who rarely see it, but the rain, you get sick of it after a while. For us, long spells of rain are a problem because there isn’t enough time for my washing to dry, and Robert only has so many changes of clothes. I did wash some of his clothes and hung them to dry in the bathroom but they did not smell fresh. In fact, last Sunday my ex had the audacity to complain that Robert stank so bad and he had to bath him early in the morning. The laundy did not see any sun last week, and perhaps that is why they picked up quickly the smell of the dirty nappy, but they were clean. When I pointed this out to my ex he said he did not want to hear complaining, and he wanted Robert to be well groomed when he visited with him. His acid comments grated on me badly. I am doing the best that I can under the circumstances. I wash our clothes by hand, while he has the luxury of the washing machine. I keep my sense of humor when baby and cat act up and find it hard to cope with their changed circumstances. I walk behind the little one, patiently straightening the things he messes up, time and time again, and try to play referee between my cat and Jackie’s. It is a hard life though, I am starting to get fed up.
For one Robert is getting more demanding and active, and Jackie’s place is full of clutter. I am the last person to judge, because I am not Miss Order myself, but the fact remains that it is a house that isn’t used to little people walking underfoot. It has too many knick knacks strewn around, and many dangerous bigger ones lurking at every corner. Right by the door there is an African sculpture; it is roughly the same size as Robert and three times as heavy, and it balances on a small base. I cringe to think of the consequences if it ever toppled over while he was close by. There is also the puzzle of the electrical wiring in this old old place. An annoying example is the burglar alarm connected to an adapter with loose and exposed wiring connectors. This faulty adapter is plugged into a power bar, which in turn plugs into the wall socket. The power bar itself resides on the floor unsecured and it is the only electrical point in my room where I can plug my cell phone and tooth brush charger. This strange arrangement makes the burglar alarm susceptible every time I charge my cell phone, or every time Robert or the cat moves in the surrounding area; the loose connections in the adapter disconnect and the burglar alarm starts beeping because it lost power. It happens at least once every other day, and Jackie barges into the room to fix the connection. I bite my tongue every time, but I had this same problem when I lived here three years ago, and that was minus cat and baby. I always thought that this bad connection should be addressed. In addition the general living arrangement are not great for me, Robert and I (and now Petey) are crammed into a small room, and we have very little cupboard space. We do not have many things, but whether I like it or not, baby paraphernalia takes up a lot of space, and makes a huge mess. I find myself constantly tripping over toys, books, and various pieces of accessories and clothing. Most of Robert’s toys have nowhere to put away, so they are constantly floating around, and I try in vain to keep them in order, or even to keep track of them when they try to disappear amongst all the clutter.
On the up side, I really cannot complain. Jackie has allowed us to overflow into other parts of the house. The toys are often lying around in the lounge. Baby strollers ( the old monster that my ex bought and the new lightweight buggy) and also the baby car seat reside in the second lounge, along with a number of my boxes. My computer sits in Jackie’s office area, and although my part of the desk is horribly cramped, it is still adequate. I have successfully delivered my first small project from this very corner, and consider myself blessed to have this little space with its connection to the internet. The connection was down for a few days while I was doing the project and it was a huge inconvenience to work offline without the benefit of references and then go out late at night to mail translations from a nearby internet cafe. One should be glad for the small blessings in life.
Another thing to smile about is that after a week of rain the sun is shining again, and I am feeling a strong current of hope. The project is finished and I feel elated, the same feeling I used to get after writing an exam, where I know that I have done well. My washing is hanging out in the sun to dry and a delicious pasta sauce is simmering on the stove. Life has its small challenges but overall things are starting to look up.