Monday, November 06, 2006

A Walk on the Wild Side

Well, quite a weekend of kill or be killed. Unfortunately I was a witness to one murder, the perpetrator in two and almost the victim in a third. So I use a bit of literary licence, so what!

I think it is just that time of year because both Caron and I are absolutely exhausted and not the pleasant exhaustion that comes from exercise. As a result, neither Caron nor myself can actually remember anything from last week, it is like we tore the week out of the diary so my most distant memory is that of Saturday morning which I actually remember quite well since it started at 04:30.

Met Jason at Cycle Lab to go for a long medium pace ride. He was quite pleased that I arrived after him, not that I was late it's just that he was actually there before me. My how things change. Started the ride at 05:30 just as the sun was starting to peep over the horizon. What an absolutely fabulous day. Spring time is just fantastic in Joburg. Cool mornings, clean (relatively at least) air, gorgeous soft light, hot days and rain in the afternoon to cool it down for the evening. Absolutely perfect, such a pity one has to have the odd oppressively hot and freezing cold days to make one really appreciate the good days.

Met up with two guys cycling at about the same pace as ourselves who asked how far we were going. 100km was our answer thinking this would get rid of them, their reply was a nonchalant, we're doing 150km, mind if we join you for a while? Hmmm, oh well Ok, if you put it like that. They then proceeded to regale us with horror stories about falling off bicyles and motor bikes and breaking and scraping just about everything possible. Not so sure I want to be riding with people this accident prone. Call me superstitious but ....

We all cycled along quite nicely for about 60km when we got to the Krugersdorp hill which is a long grind up about 5km of relatively gentle gradient with periodic steep parts. Jason, as usual, takes this to be a personal challenge to be conquered at as fast a pace as possible so I hung on for dear life about 100m behind him, losing ground inexorably. When we got to the top we turned around to find them expecting them to be just behind us but they were't there, they must have been at least 1000m behind us which made us both feel pretty good although neither of us said anything. Not good form to gloat and there is always a chance that they were conserving their strength for the extra 50km they were doing ... but I doubt it. Nobody likes to get dropped.

Took our leave of them so they could continue on the 150km and had the most fantastic ride, easy spinning down gentle slopes with the wind behind us was just bliss. Phoned Caron and Cathy (and Kelly) to meet us at the design court for breakfast which was great if a little dangerous for the ol' wallet. Meeting wives in a centre dedicated to decor is probably not a bright idea to be repeated too often.

Went to Kim and Laurel for lunch which was delicious as usual. They both seem to cook so well or maybe it is just that Caron and I put our energy into other things because the cooking at home is not what one would call spectacular. This would also explain why we eat out so often. After lunch it was my turn to put up, fix and otherwise make myself handy around their house which was about the time that the first murder happened.

In the last few years there seems to have been a dramatic influx of indigenous birds back into Johannesburg and one of the birds to have made a reappearance is the Burchells Coucal which is a beautiful bird with a beautiful call but some nasty psychopathic behaviour. It's a predator but not the kind that waits for prey to be at least full grown, it preys on other birds eggs and chicks. Hauling them out of the nest and killing them while the parents frantically dive bomb the coucal hoping to distract it. The hapless pigeon parents were a bit late and the coucal had already killed the chick so the dive bombing only had the effect of making the coucal drop the carcass which the garden boy promptly picked up and put into a plastic bag. The coucal then spent about 10 minutes on the ground looking for the carcass where it knew it dropped it before Kim went and retrieved the carcass and put it back on the ground. Within about a minute the coucal was back and away with Saturday lunch. We might not have lions roaming the streets of Johannesburg but this definitely qualifies as a wildlife kill.

Finished the handyman act and retired to read "Spud" which is quite a humourous account of boarding school life circa 1990 in the Natal midlands. Feeling a bit two toned due to not putting sun tan cream on this morning since I thought that the sun wouldn't be too hot by 09:30 when we stopped riding. I was wrong and I now have an exceptionally marked farmers tan, think badly sunburnt. Actually quite sore especially under the shower. Went to bed early and woke up late ... at 04:45 on a Sunday morning can you believe it. Met Tim, Ross, Mike and a new guy Ralph for a 60km cycle to the botanical gardens and back. Still a little sore from yesteday so I took it relatively easy most of the time but couldn't resist putting some effort in on the last few hills which left everyone except Ross trailing far behind. Ross has deep seated psychological problems and just cannot let someone beat him. He would rather bonk (hit the wall, not the usual connotation) than let someone get away. This is a really fun trait to have in someone because they can't help themselves and you just have to push yourself a little bit to watch them bursting a foofie valve determined to beat you. Thoroughly enjoyed the ride, particularly the last hill where for a change I felt really strong even dropping a gear and sprinting up the steep bits.

Yesterday was the SIL's (Sisters in Law) house handyman stunt. Today is home handyman, specifically the gutters need cleaning and if there is one handyman type chore that I really detest, it is cleaning the gutters. Spotted some carpenter bee holes in my rafters. Carpenter bees are very large and have a nasty habit of burrowing into rafters, I have read that this does not significanlty weaken the structure but I dont' see how it can't. This is definitely a case of NIMBY (Not in my back yard) and the bees had to go. Sprayed DOOM into the hole and waited for the bees to exit and die. One got out of his hole before I had a chance to spray it and terrorised me for a minute or two before making himself scarce. I really wish they didn't make homes in rafters, and it's not like there isn't a whole lot of dead wood around for them to choose from. Dying to make a wisecrack about some people being deadwood but I have to restrain myself.

Onto the dreaded gutter clearing exercise which normally just entails using a long ladder, clearing leaves out and using high pressure water to dislodge the rest and wash it down the drainpipe. This works fine for most gutters but one, in particular, can't be done like this. It is about 6m off the ground and well out of reach of the ladder so one has to approach it by walking down the roof and squatting near the edge on the 45 deg roof enabling one to use both hands to scoop the dead leaves out of the gutter. This leaves (pardon the pun) one's nose poking out over space, in this case about 6m of vertical drop and this is not a good time to get vertigo. So there I am perched precariously on the edge when out pops a spider from the pile of leaves between my hands and skoots up the roof heading for you know where. I am not normally scared of spiders but there are limits and having a spider trespassing over one's privates is way over the line. Needless to say, vertigo went out the window and I moved rather rapidly backwards up the roof on all fours as fast as I could thus denying the spider the opportunity to latch onto anything .... well, the gutters are finished now and no, I didn't kill the spider.

Spent the rest of the afternoon reading which completed a very satisfying weekend.

Oh yes, enjoyed a lack lustre All Black side walloping England.

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