Scary Power Failure

ESKOM makes life interesting!

Mum and I had an interesting experience when we went shopping last week. As we walked in, I said “Oh oh there’s load-shedding here!” I could hear the rumble of a generator.

“Don’t be silly Sibo,”mum responded, then stopped, cocked her head and reluctantly agreed.

I smirked a bit because mum hates to be wrong. There seemed to be no problems, so we grabbed a trolley and carried on into the store.

About half way through our shop, the noise of the generator suddenly died and the store went dark.

Dark is not a very accurate description.

It was so pitch black you could barely see your hand in front of your face. One never really thinks about the fact that there are no windows in big supermarkets—there’s a lot of artificial lighting in use.

There were a number of yelps and squeaks. I’m not a fan of the dark either so I sidled closer to mum and hung onto the trolley. Mum, on the other hand, clutched her bag tighter so that nobody could sneak up on her in the dark either.

After a few seconds, people hauled out their cell phones and the pitch black was pierced with random holes of light, which made it less scary. That torch app is pretty useful in a situation like that and if you don’t have one installed on your phone, maybe it’s a good idea to get one. They’re mostly free after all.

The situation didn’t last long. The genny hummed, the lights flickered back on, off and then on again. Everybody resumed their shopping.

“Let’s hurry up and get out of here Sibo,” mum picked up the pace of her shopping.

I was quite impressed with the way that everybody just stopped, stayed where they were and did not panic or do anything stupid. Although I wondered if the shop experienced losses with some dodgy people taking the opportunity to pop items into their handbags or pockets.

I was also curious about what happened at the tills. Did the whole system crash? Did they have to start ringing up everything again?

Being a nosey person, I asked, and the lady at the till said that their system just carried on like normal. It was only the lights that went out.

At least the power seems to have stabilised again… for the moment.

Sending love and light people.

Sibo

PESKOM

Power outages are a pain in the butt!

My friend Ginny wrote a modern day, uniquely South African fairy storybook, The Imaginaeries of Faerie Glen, based in a nature reserve in Pretoria. Amongst other things, she rips off ESKOM—calls them PESCOM in the book, which stands for the Pesky Fire-Fly Company and they provide light in the Glen. They are just as unreliable and irritating as our own electricity company in South Africa.

Until the app “Eskom se push” came out, it was nightmare trying to figure out which stage you were on and what number your house was on the grid. There was a horrible, unwieldy table that my Dad printed out and stuck together to make a chart. He laboriously highlighted each teensy numbered block that represented our area. And still we got it wrong. The stages would change or load-shedding would miraculously stop.

Nothing drives my mother crazier than having meticulously prepared for a power outage at a certain time—like at seven o’clock in the evening. Charged solar-power jars, dinner prepared long in advance, lanterns ready, cell phones 100% charged. Plus she’d reluctantly come to terms with missing her favourite programme that evening.

We finished dinner just before seven that evening and sat around the table, waiting for that ‘click’ when everything shuts down.

Nothing.

Mum went to the kitchen to double check the time on the oven clock. That’s a pain in the butt too – you know how many times I have reset those digi clocks in the last few weeks? It was only five minutes past the hour—there was still time for the municipality to hit the ‘off’ switch.

Still nothing.

At ten past seven my Dad declared that that power was going to stay on and Mum could watch her programme after all. I shuffled off to my room and read by light bulb, instead of the solar power jar I had all charged and ready.

The next night, we were on the same schedule—the power was due to go off at seven. Mum was more relaxed this time. She’d also stashed all the lamps back in the kitchen cupboard (my mum’s a neat freak you know). 

Pow! At exactly one minute past seven, the power went out. Mum howled with rage and Dad said naughty words because he’d forgotten to charge his cell phone and only had 5% battery power left.

You just never know, do you?

Sending light and love people.

Sibo

Valentine’s Day

Squished between Christmas and Easter we have Valentine’s Day, where the shops are full of sappy hearts and flowers, enticing people, who have barely recovered from the holiday season, to once again buy, buy, buy!

Valentine’s Day specials on outfits, cards, CD’s, food, holidays, chocolates and even appliances. Really! Who needs a nice new vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day?

I know somebody who says if you play the Lotto, you are paying stupidity taxes. I think caving in to Valentine’s Day demands is probably on a par with that.

It’s a vastly overrated day—husbands, boyfriends and partners get into trouble if they don’t shower their loved ones with stuff. Not being taken out to dinner can cause a meltdown.

What is all the hype for?

To loudly proclaim: I love you. I appreciate you. You are my most favourite person in the whole wide world.

Shouldn’t you say that every day? Not just once a year?

It‘s not even a proper holiday—it’s just a commercial day. And yet it has become an occasion where people get upset if their significant other doesn’t acknowledge it, signifying their relationship and the depth of their feelings—so that other people can see too.

It’s also a waste of money day.

Shops rob relatively sane people of money for ridiculous things. Anything adorned with a heart is a sitting duck. Flowers fly out of their buckets. Restaurants are teeming. 

People propose. People compare. And some people die slowly inside from lack of real love.

Many folk desperately hope for a card or a gift. But the day ends and they have a large hole in their own heart, feeling unappreciated, unloved and uncared for.

Here’s a funny story. A friend’s husband gave her a gold bracelet for Valentine’s Day. She was very surprised; they had never celebrated the 14th of February in all their ten years of marriage. She started to dig a little deeper and discovered that her husband was having an affair. His mistress had hinted that she wanted jewellery for the occasion, and feeling guilty, he had bought something for his wife as well. Bummer! It backfired on him horribly.

If you love somebody, show them every day—not just once a year.

Do the little things that count. Flowers, random acts of kindness, gentle words. Live your love.

All the time!

Sibo

Turning dreams into reality

I saw this graphic on Facebook today and it totally resonated with me.

How often do you hear somebody say “I wish I could drive.” (Just as an example—although I do know a couple of people.) But they don’t do anything about it. They catch a bus or a taxi, day after day, sighing and moaning, feeling unhappy, wishing they could drive—being jealous and nasty about those who can.

If you had to tackle them they’d probably say, “But it’s so difficult.” Or “I don’t have the time to learn.” Or “But I don’t have money for a car so what’s the point.” Of course, if they can’t drive, they’ll never have a car, will they?

So they continue to complain that they’re hard done by because they can’t drive.

If they put their mind to it, driving could actually become a reality.

The old saying, where there’s a will, there’s a way still applies.

If they wrote down their dream “I want to drive by the end of 2019.” and stuck it up on the fridge, it would no longer be a dream. It has become a goal.

Then the next steps need to be planned.

Find out where a person can take driving lessons, and how much they cost.

Maybe you need to save first, to be able to pay for those driving lessons. Work out what is affordable and stick to the plan of saving X-amount every single month towards your goal.

Take action! Book the learner’s license test in advance. You can’t take lessons if you don’t have your learners.

Use the time that you are saving wisely: look and see what is happening on the road. Check out the road signs. Study the learners’ book, ask those who can drive questions, get them to test you on questions from the book.

Once you’ve passed your learner’s license, you can take those lessons—because you’ve saved the money and you have it.

When you’ve finished your lessons, you are ready to take your driver’s test. And you will pass it the first time because you’re prepared.

So what if you don’t have a car—you can drive!

There is nothing to stop buying your own car as the next goal. Saving towards a deposit, making it happen—one step at a time.

Turns those dreams into reality people—no matter what they are.

Sibo

The benefits of reading aloud

1st February is World Read Aloud Day.

Last year more than a million people participated in this event. Sounds fabulous, but actually when you come to think of how many people there actually are in this world (estimated at ~7.7 billion in November last year) that is pretty darn pathetic!

Every day should be a read aloud day.

Reading stories to children is probably one of the most beneficial things you, as a parent or older sibling, can do, apart from giving them love, food, clothing and shelter that is.

It’s not only little kids that enjoy being read to either, older kids appreciate a good story too.

Scary fact: South Africa came last in the world in a recent survey. They discovered that 8 out of 10 kids in Grade 4 cannot read for meaning – in any language. What does that terrifying sentence signify? It means that those kids can read the words, but when they have finished “reading” them, they don’t know what they just read.

It makes no sense right? Sadly it’s true, and when you don’t understand what you are reading, it strips away all the joy associated with books.

You, as a parent, have the power to instil a love of reading in your child from early on.

It’s as simple as reading a little story at bedtime. Every bedtime! It’s also a sneaky way of having one-on-one special time with your kids.

When you read with emphasis and expression, it makes the story come alive. Not only does that make it interesting, but the way you read gets your kids to understand how grammar works, without even realising. You pause at a comma and stop at the end of the sentence.

They can hear how words are being pronounced.

Being read aloud to also exposes children to new words and increases their vocabulary.

Literature is also a great way of helping kids understand something that they have not necessarily been exposed to themselves. It makes them more aware and instils empathy.

Please do leave your cell phone in another room when you are reading to your children. Possibly the most irritating thing in the world is having a story continually interrupted by pinging, ringing and a distracted storyteller.

To celebrate World Read Aloud Day we are making ‘Sibo Saves Water’ a free digi-read on the website. It’s a double celebration – the 2nd of February is World Wetlands Day.

Happy reading and listening!

Sibo

Getting Organised

Stress is a horrible thing. It often sneaks up on a person and causes all sorts of problems. There are many reasons why one gets stressed out but one of the worst causes of stress is being disorganised and finding yourself running out of time, or arriving at a place without important stuff that you need.

Like the homework you left on the dining room table or your PE clothes, or your permission slip to go on an outing.

There’s a relatively easy way to eliminate such stress.

Plan your day.

Ergh! Sibo. I hear you say… that’s so boring.

Not really—if you plan your day, you’d probably have more free time to do fun stuff.  

How many times have we all rushed around, looking for something at the last minute, panicking like crazy when we can’t find it—only to find that it’s right there, under our nose. Or even worse, having to leave the house without it.

Use a diary or planner and write down everything that you have to do the night before.

This way you won’t wake up in the middle of the night, think of something you have to do the next day and lay there worrying that you’ll have forgotten it by morning.

Part of planning, is developing a routine.

  • Try to go bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time in the morning. Set two alarms if you have a hard time waking up.
  • Have a shower, get dressed, and eat your breakfast (or the other way around if you are a messy eater).
  • Rather be ready to leave five minutes early than be running five minutes late.
  • Pack your school things the night before. Make certain all the stuff you need for the next day is in your case before you go to sleep. One less thing to worry about.
  • Create a routine for yourself as far as your homework is concerned too. Try and do it at the same time every day. Don’t leave it for after supper when you are too tired to think either.
  • Keep the space where you do your homework neat tidy so that you don’t get distracted.
  • Lastly, don’t multi-task. While you might think you’re getting loads of things done all at once, usually nothing gets done properly. Do one thing at a time and do it well.

Being organised means being in control.

Sibo

Silly Season

No matter how good our intentions are during the year to start buying thoughtful little gifts when you spot them, somehow it never happens.

Even though the shops start sending out tendrils of temptation a few months before Christmas; reminding everybody that it’s just around the corner, dangling tantalizing goodies in obvious places, December always creeps up rather fast.

The reality is most people expect presents at this time of the year.

I was listening to kids talking at school the other day. The one kid was saying that he expected his father would buy him a play station for Christmas.

His friend looked at him strangely and said, “But how? Your father doesn’t have a job at the moment?”

The other kid just shrugged, “He’ll make a plan—he always does. Otherwise Mum knows I’ll sulk.”

What a brat! In our house, we receive gifts on our birthdays. That’s your time to get a fancy present, or something that you really want. Maybe.

When it comes to this time of year, limits are set for presents of R25 or less each.  It may sound completely crazy but it means that people have to put their thinking caps on and get creative. This takes time and planning, which is, after all, the point of a gift. It’s supposed to be thoughtful and meaningful.

For instance, my Gran bakes cookies. She uses recycled packaging attractively and hands out those for gifts. Her mince pies are legend, we all love them.

I usually make vouchers because even R25 is way too much for me. Fancy, decorated ones and I try to make them useful—even if I don’t like what I’m offering to do. Mum absolutely appreciates tea in bed on a Saturday morning. I offer to wash dogs, baby sit hamsters, rake leaves, water plants etc.

Mum makes little gardens in old containers that she jazzes up. She pinches bits of succulents from friends’ houses and collects interesting looking stones and twigs. My cousin makes awesome jewelry. Another cousin makes dream catchers. My auntie makes up interesting sweetie jars. My Dad scours second hand book stores.

Not only do we all end up getting loads of cool stuff, but we also get to see how everybody else appreciates what we’ve taken time to make or find. It works a treat.

Get creative people – the gift is in the giving.

Sibo.

 

Things to Do in December

It’s that silly season time of year when people are busting to go on holiday but it’s not quite time yet.  Some people don’t have the opportunity or finances to go anywhere, and others have no choice but to work. Imagine how hard it must be for cashiers and sales clerks to see everybody stocking up on goodies and they have to work throughout the festive season. Spare a thought for those people please.

The situation currently is being made worse by load-shedding. Yes! It’s frustrating as all hell – but we don’t have to let it get us down.

Now is the time that we can all do a couple of things to make life easier.

  • Smile often and randomly. Never underestimate the power of a smile.
  • Hold the door open for strangers.
  • Say ‘Good Morning” or “Hullo” to people that you pass by.
  • Tip generously.
  • Pay compliments.
  • Call shop assistants by the name on their tag, i.e. “Thank you Sindiwe” and toss in a smile too.
  • Wave at the police.
  • Share food at school or work.
  • Make funny faces at babies in grocery queues to keep them entertained.
  • Be patient with sales clerks—and be nice!

Of course, if you are feeling generous, you can also do cool things like buying a stranger a cup of coffee, or paying for somebody’s groceries/parking ticket etc.

Other ideas… offer to walk dogs, run errands for elderly people and do garden chores like weeding and de-heading flowers.

Once we start thinking about ways to be nice and to do stuff for people, more ideas come flooding in. The strange thing is good things come flooding back too. What goes around comes around.

The other day I was visiting a friend in hospital. We had to walk up nine flights of stairs and just before getting to the ninth floor—my legs were seriously aching—I passed a tired, sad looking lady. Without thinking, I smiled at her and said “Hi”. She carried on walking. Then I heard her stop. I turned around and she was staring at me, also smiling. She bobbed her head, said “Hullo” back, then carried on trudging down the stairs.

Be the light people. It’s not hard and it costs nothing.

It all starts with our own attitude.

Kindness makes the world a better place.

Sibo.

 

Books are Friends

My friend Ginny gives talks in schools sometimes. The topic is “Books are Friends!” It’s interactive and the kids also get to add their two cents worth. This is how it goes:

F is for Friends! Books are better than friends because you don’t have to ask somebody’s permission to go and visit a book (unless you want to go to the library) and books don’t get cross and fight with you. You never feel lonely when you have a book for company and you can have fun escaping into fiction or fantasy. Plus you can use them to find out facts. Reading sets you free!

R is for Reading! You can read a range of books at any rate you want to – fast or slow. You rest when you want to, and if you enjoyed a bit, you can return to it and read it again. You can read about your rights too.

I is for Interesting! Books are incredibly interesting and inspiring. Reading makes you intelligent. You can read important stuff. It’s impossible to get bored if you have a book to read. Of course, don’t forget – books are printed with Ink.

E is for Everybody! Books are for everybody and can be found everywhere. Excellent books explain things and equip you with knowledge. They are exciting and entertaining. Best of all – you don’t need electricity to read a book with your eyes.

N is for Nice! New books are nice too.  Books are necessary, we need them. You can turn to the next page to see what happens in the story every night. Books have names – just like you and I. But you should never ever mistreat your friends.

D is for Dependable! Just like a really good friend, books are always there for you. You can read the daily and when you have finished your book, you can donate it to somebody else to read. They are delightful but you do have to look after them. Dictionaries are great books too. Diaries are books that you can write about your own life. Don’t forget about digital books either!

S is for Story! And for Sibo of course! Some of our story books talk about saving water, electricity and strays. Taking shorter showers and planting seeds.  Separating rubbish and recycling.

On Saturday there is a pop-up book fair at the Alkantrant Library, Lynburn Rd, Lynnwood Manor, Pretoria from 09h00 – 12h00. Come and meet some new friends. Get your Christmas shopping done nice and early.

Lots of love,

Sibo.

Bloody Business

South Africa is currently running out of blood. That sounds crazy–especially when people are walking around full of blood that they could share. Well… maybe not everybody can share their blood because there are conditions prescribed as far as sharing blood goes.  However, it’s seriously scary, because one never knows when you might be in a situation where you need safe blood.

What is “safe blood”?

It’s blood that is free from HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis – these can easily be transmitted through transfusion.

If you are fit and healthy please consider donating – you never know when you yourself might need a blood transfusion.

In South Africa, every unit of blood that is collected goes through stringent testing to ensure that it is safe.

So how much of your precious life blood do they take? Only 480ml. It’s less than 10% of the total blood volume of an adult. Most adults have between 4.5 and 5 litres of blood in their bodies. The lost fluid is replaced in the body within 36 hours. (However, if you weigh less than 50kg you’re not allowed to donate because you don’t actually have enough blood to spare.)

You are, by law, not allowed to give blood more than every 56 days. This means that a person would only give three or four times a year. Not too much to ask really – is it?

In South Africa people between the age of 16 and 65 are allowed to give blood —if they are fit and healthy. There’s a questionnaire that has to be completed, regarding your health and life style. A finger prick test is done to check iron levels before donating. Blood pressure is also checked to make sure that people are actually healthy enough to donate.

Remember – you need to eat and drink enough fluid (not alcohol) before donating.

Or course, if you’ve had flu or have been sick in the last few days you are not allowed to donate because it would be bad for you. Also, if you have been to the dentist or had surgery recently, you could also be excluded. Recent body piercings and tattoos would kick you out of the system too.

Don’t even think about trying to share your blood if you have had malaria—then you have to wait for three whole years before you can donate again.

For more information on giving blood – go to http://www.sanbs.org.za/ .

Give people! It might save lives!

Blood is life.

Sibo.