We’re all Riding in this Corona Bus Together

 

We have become used to disasters wreaking havoc somewhere in the world at any point in time lately, looking on from afar and praying and feeling sorry for the people it happens to. Not this time. A petit, unseeable-with- the-naked-eye virus had made its way into homes all around the globe.

I know everyone is jumping on the wagon with jokes and tips and advice and to be honest, I’m one of those people who gets bored very easily and I already Covid-19 fatigued a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, ignoring this one isn’t a luxury we don’t have. We are all forced to deal with it.

Two thirds of the world live under restrictions already. Many countries are in lockdown mode. Tonight at 00:00 South Africa will go into lockdown too. Our little family leads quite an active lifestyle now and I will miss our walks on the cliff path alongside the sea very, very much. No running, cycling or walking dogs will be allowed during this time. We may only leave the house to get medical help and buy food, but then it is restricted to one person per family at a time as far as possible. My mind struggles to comprehend the situation, because it is unprecedented. To think we can not go out is… well, unthinkable!

We used the last opportunity today to go out to the beach where others were sitting in their cars or taking last strolls along the cliff path with their four-legged friends. (Don’t worry, it is a small town, so the social distancing was well implemented!) Restaurants in our town are closed already. Apart from the petrol stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and medical institutions everything else will not open tomorrow morning.

This is not just a bus passing by. We are already on it and we will stay on it and only get off when it is time to get off. So, we should do it together and make the best of it by helping where we can and praying for the vulnerable, the needy and for the economy. And who knows how many good things can come from it also! We already see the positive influence that people staying home has on pollution in places like China and Venice. And how people are singing together on balconies in Italy. And how people reach out and help each other everywhere else. Maybe this little scary thing will teach us to be human again.

If you aren’t working for an essential service such as medical assistance, policing, crime prevention and food transportation or working in a supermarket, a petrol station or keeping us informed on radio and TV or doing something else that is important and needed, you WILL be stuck at home for the next twenty one plus days.

So, consider using the time you have productively to rest and do the things that you never have time for or start working on that dream you have, but don’t chase.

To all our heroes who have to go out every day to work to keep us all safe, happy and sound, we salute you and we pray for your health and safety.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine upon you,

and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

and give you peace.”

(Numbers 6:24-26- NKJV)

Stay healthy and safe. Until tomorrow, when I will have a few ideas for you on how to spend your time in such a manner that you get enough rest, but do things to keep you not only physically healthy – but most importantly – also mentally sound.

Enjoy your walk or run tonight. And sleep well knowing that “He has the whole world in His hand…”

Until tomorrow when I will have a few ideas for you on how to spend some time in a creative way during the lockdown here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/03/27/in-the-beginning-we-were-created-to-be-creative/.

 

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂🙂🙂

What Happens Between “Enchanté” and “Auf Wiedersehen”

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A longish note to everyone we met during our almost four and a half years stay in Egypt.

 

When we Afrikaners meet someone for the first time, we like to greet them with the words “Bly te kenne”. These words literally translate to ‘may we keep knowing each other’.

At that point, the person you meet is just another stranger about whom you know nothing, except his or her name – if you manage to catch, pronounce and remember it! But as time goes by and you meet again and again you learn to pronounce their names correctly, meet their families – either in person or by hearing about them. You eventually learn about the person’s passions, talents, joys and heartbreaks. And then suddenly they are unfamiliar no more.

During our five summers in Cairo we met quite a few people, who by sharing similar experiences, challenges, difficulties and fun, had transformed from strangers into dear friends. Fortunately, living in an ever-changing international community for a while, there are plenty of opportunities to say “Bly te kenne” or “Nice to meet you” or “Enchanté”. Unfortunately during this temporary expat life, another phrase is being used way too often too, because coming and going is a given in this type of lifestyle.

Saying goodbye is never easy and when you have to do it that often, it really “sucks”, to quote our American friends. At first there are goodbyes to family and friends when you first leave to go live in a foreign country in a foreign culture between foreign people. And then there are all the in-between goodbyes when you go home on holiday and return – just to leave your loved ones behind again. And again.  And again. And again…

But then, all of a sudden the day arrives when you have to say goodbye to the foreigners – the strangers whom you met at a reception or a coffee morning or a welcoming party or in the street or at work, and who, in a short period of time, became friends. People who made your stay in a foreign place less foreign. Who helped turn uncomfortable into comfortable. Whose unknown faces had become so familiar and loved that you can’t imagine saying goodbye to them to probably never see them ever again! And that thought is just unthinkable!

So, for that purpose we have another wonderful phrase in Afrikaans and in some other languages with which we try to ease the pain of saying goodbye. We say “Tot weersiens”, which means ‘until we see each other’ – much like the Hebrew l’hitra’ot or the French a bientôt or the German ‘auf wiedesehen’.

If we say “Until we meet again”, we all know that – even if the goodbye part is inevitable for the now – we keep the hope afloat to meet again, because who knows? It just might happen! It already happened when we went on holiday to Greece and met up with old Cairo friends there and when some of our American friends visited us at home while on holiday! So, anything is possible!

Saying goodbye is too final. It means it’s over and done with. Finished. It shuts the door on hope. Goodbyes are no good. They are hope killers and killing hope is not good for one’s soul.

So, after this long account, I’ll come to the point. This note is not a hope killer. This is not our goodbye to you. This is just to say thanks to you for all the laughs and cries we shared. For the many, many, many glasses of wine we had together – and for lamenting together over all those almost-full glasses we lost to over-eager Egyptian waiters! And for all the caipirinhas (“por favor” wink-wink) and all the times we danced to C’est La Vie at functions we were supposed to and at functions we were not supposed to!

Thank you for caring for Deon when Michael and I were not here and making him feel less alone in Cairo. Thank you for helping him when he was dean. And thank you for always asking about ‘our Michael’ and conversing with him and treating him as part of our community and giving him the experience of a lifetime! Thank you for every “How are you?” and every smile and every hug and every kiss and every “I will miss you” towards the end.

We will miss every one of you – those to whom we have already said goodbye to four, three and two years ago and last year and this year, and you who we leave behind now. Every one of you and your families had touched our hearts in one way or another. From now on when we hear English in a foreign accent it will be your voices and your accents we hear it and then we will miss you even more. We will miss your smiles. We will miss dancing with you. We will miss laughing will you. We will miss everything about you.

We wish that you and your families will be blessed in whatever you do wherever you go. Our family’s prayer for you comes from the Bible:

God bless you and guard you.

God make His face shine upon you and show favour to you.

God lift up His face upon you and give you peace.

 

We will always remember you, because between “Enchanté” and “Auf wiedersehen” we have made too many memories together to forget each other.

 

Until we meet again, our friends.

 

With love from Deon, Fielies & Michael De Kock

June 2018 – Cairo, Egypt

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Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 3

More Egypt Chronicles

GemmerGat
GemmerGat – Die kat kom weer!
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Cat#1 & Cat#2

And yet more cat stories.  Ja, wragtig!

So, I should probably give you an update on our cat family here in Cairo. The last time I wrote about them l was really sad about the ginger, Gemmergat, vanishing from our lives. Although we became used to him not being here, I kept wondering what had happened to him – especially after little Swartgat was hit by a car. Yep, we came back after travelling and was relieved and happy to see that the rest of the building fed the cats and that the cute little black cat survived. I was even starting to wonder what the procedure would be to take a cat back to South Africa. The very day after we arrived back, our son and I walked to the shops and was away for about an hour. When we came back, we saw the lifeless little body of ‘our’ black kitten lying in front of the church across the street from our home. He was hit by a car. So, that was the end of little SwartGat.

There was still no sign of ‘our’ ginger, so I was wondering if that was what had happened to GemmerGat too, but then I thought that Gemmergat was too smart a cat to be run over by a car. Did she die from injuries after a fight? Hm-hm, I thought, couldn’t be either, because although from the few fights l witnessed, I learned that that she didn’t like to fight, but she knew how to defend herself. So, I kept wondering.

In October or November last year, the serial mother of our neighbourhood, Camo, surprised us with yet another few bundles of joy. She always have three, it seems, but somehow only one or two make it upstairs to our garden. The other one stays downstairs in the underground parking garage or die or something. We still see one of her previous kittens – a beautiful light grey male – from time to time. He even visits our garden. This time the two kittens she brought upstairs for us to help feed, was a beautiful, strong black one – just like little SwartGat was – and another, much smaller ginger one. We didn’t even bothered with names anymore and they just became Cat#1 and Cat#2 .  We feed them and watch them grow and of course I take a lot of photos of them.

In December we went home to South Africa on holiday and when we came back, the most wonderful surprise awaited us, because in front of our door, as if she had never been away, GemmerGat was bathing in what Egypt has to offer as a winter sun! Never in my life would I had believed that I would be so ecstatic to see a stray cat!

Yep, it was just as in a well-known Afrikaans song’s words: Die kat kom weer (the Cat comes again)!

 

Read my previous cat chronicles here:

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 2 https://fieliesdekock.com/2017/04/30/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-2/

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles – Part 1 https://fieliesdekock.com/2017/04/30/egyptian-street-cat-chronicles-part-1/

 

2018 ©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

 Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

What I’ve learned from my Own NaNoWriMo Alternative – NaFFWriMo

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Please NaNoWriMo, don’t sue me for the spin-off. It was just my way of not doing nothing writing wise for a month.

I have no time in November – not this past November or any other as in our yearly routine it might just be the busiest time. For that reason I don’t even think of signing up for NaNoWriMo yearly, because although I might write my daily dose of 1333 words on the first day an maybe the second and even a third, I know that I will be disappointed down the line, because it will end. But, I still wanted to dedicate at least a bit of time to regular writing during the month of November just to feel part of something bigger, so I decided on my own personal alternative – National Flash Fiction Writing Month or NaFFWriMo. I decided to write a short story every day of the month. I wasn’t a 100% successful, as the last few days I got busy and I stopped a few short. Nevertheless, I have 26 stories more than I had on 31 October, so I’m at least a bit satisfied by my effort.

The Rules of the Game

At first my thinking was to write 100-word stories, but the first one was shorter and I felt that if I forced it to be longer it would lose its effect, so although I managed a few precise 100-word stories after that, I decided earlier on that I was not going to put any restrictions on myself other than that all the stories would probably be under 500 words.

Statistics

  • I wrote 26 stories in 30 days. That makes my ‘pass rate’ 86,666%.
  • My longest story is 324 words long.
  • My shortest story is 6 words short.
  • I actually wrote two stories which was precisely 100 words before any editing, (which makes me wonder if you can train your brain to write an exact amount of words on a regular basis?).
  • 11 stories is/eventually will be 100-word stories after editing.
  • A whopping 73% (19/26) of the stories was inspired by everyday events – either something that happened around me or by news events or articles in the media.

A few things I’ve learned during my NaFFWriMo

  • It’s not that easy to come up with something new every day.
  • Lots of ideas for fiction comes from everyday life non-fiction, be it one’s own experiences or things happening in the news. So, we just have to be alert to find ideas. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction and we don’t even need to wish for a muse or to dream up the ideas ourselves. We live in a crazy world full of people doing weird, crazy, wonderful and terrible things. Use it to create your own fiction.
  • Restrictions inhibit creativity. That’s not really an earthmoving or new fact, I know. 100 words can be too much. 100 words can also be too little. Writing a 6-word story is better than writing no story at all.
  • Sometime less is really more. I wrote one particular story which wasn’t bad in 276 words, but it also works extremely effectively as 100-word one. I will keep both for future use. Don’t just discard the longer or shorter versions of your stories.
  • I had to discipline myself to come up with something every day. It was a good feeling to produce on demand, although it wasn’t always easy.
  • One idea is sometimes – most of the times – followed by another. So, if I had decided not to write anything on some days, I would not only have missed out on one story, but on two!
  • Ideas don’t keep ‘working hours’. Some ideas came at night, just before I went to sleep, so I made myself a WhatsApp writing group with both my phone and tablet and typed out the story or at least the idea quickly to store and work on later.
  • I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t write 30 flash fiction stories in 30 days (or even more, because it sounds so easy, doesn’t it?), but our current lifestyle is hectic and I was still satisfied that I managed to get 26 stories down. At least I didn’t do nothing. 3430 words for the month isn’t close to a 50 000-word novel, but it is still more than I would have written if I just decided to let the month pass without any goals.

PS: And just for the record – I know that NaNoWriMo is an American invention, but I think the name should change to IntNoWriMo to include the rest of us. Just sayin’. J

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles Part 2

 

Egypt Chronicles 2/2017

It was quite something to experience our ginger building cat’s transformation from that shy, scared, in-survival-mode creature to an animal that would lovingly come and rub her back against your leg and even allow my husband to pick her up and hold her. It took a long time, but she learned to trust us and to feel save around us. The more we learned about her, we realised that she was a reluctant, but fierce fighter with a soft heart. We named her. Sort of. That’s even more dangerous than to start feeding them! We called her GemmerGat (in English literally Ginger Butt). She became happy and quite relaxed when she realised that she could rule our yard.

So, on a not-so-cold winter January day in Cairo, GemmerGat brought a camouflage coloured kitten (which we saw since that December in the flower pots in front of the building) into our yard to be fed. We weren’t very impressed, but we couldn’t refuse GemmerGat’s generosity to reach out to the little street cat and thought that maybe it was her way of ‘paying it forward’.

The kitten wasn’t very pretty and yet it was. We called her Camo. We soon realised that she doesn’t have the same likable personality as GemmerGat. In fact, i think that she’s a bit off mentally. She was only eight months old when our son, Michael, heard some faint crying sounds outside his window one afternoon and found Camo with three little ones! We were terrified! We didn’t want more cats in our yard!

Camo was a terrible mother! She slapped her babies through their little faces if they wanted to eat and bit them. We came to like her even less. We were away on a trip and when we came back the two kittens that were left (the third vanished earlier) were gone too. I am ashamed to say that we were relieved. So we kept feeding GemmerGat and Camo and kept chasing away the male cats. A few times we thought Camo looked pregnant again, but fortunately no more kittens appeared. Then one day, two months ago, Michael heard a noise outside again and there, from behind the big bag of charcoal, the two pairs of little blue eyes of Camo’s latest offspring peeked at us.

We weren’t happy with another addition to our yard, but as it goes with baby animals – they steal your heart. This time around though, Camo is a model mommy! Instead of slapping and biting her baby (she brought up only one to be fed), I was the one who got clapped when feeding her! Talk about haughtiness! (I don’t like that cat!) But she looks well after her baby, feeds him well and even shows affection. So, I have to commend her for that. She got so protective that she started scaring away GemmerGat – to our dismay! What a rotten attitude! GemmerGat brought her to our yard to be fed and she chased her away! I am so angry at her! And I’m even more disappointed in GemmerGat to let her do that without even fighting for her territory! We saw GemmerGat in the vicinity for a while, but then she disappeared. I’m still trying to come to terms with my feelings about that.

I can’t believe I miss an animal that doesn’t even belong to us! It’s just a building cat after all! I’ve even cried a bit over her. OK, I was actually crying over a situation friends of ours are having, and then I thought about GemmerGat and then I found that I had one more reason to cry and I let go! Now, I’m just really worried about her and quite sad too, that she just abandoned us like that.

Maybe she is still around and just eating elsewhere, because we are not the only ones feeding them. The bowabs (doormen), policemen and other tenants also put out food. But what worries me is that while we still saw her in front of the building before, we haven’t seen her for weeks now. And that worries me more than I am willing to admit.

In the meanwhile, we have grown quite fond of Camo’s black baby, SwartGat (literally Black Butt). He is lovable and playful and thinks our garden is his home.

I can’t believe I’m writing about cats! Again!

I can’t believe that I miss a bloody street cat!

Cats

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Egyptian Street Cat Chronicles Part 1

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GemmerGat (GingerButt)

Egypt Chronicles 1/2017

One phenomenon everyone living in or visiting Egypt are guaranteed to encounter is the presence of street animals, be it dogs, cats or other animals – like horses, donkeys and camels, which are used for work and/or entertainment.

Although the work animals are looked after by their owners, most of the time they look a bit different than the well-nourished farm animals one would be used to seeing in your native country. For various reasons I won’t elaborate much further on the subject of Egypt’s work animals.

One has to learn soon that you can’t rescue every street creature you come across. In fact, you have to learn to become a bit thick-skinned in your approach to these animals – something that is very difficult for an animal lover. And there are phases to this process.

In the beginning you feel terrible for the dogs running in packs, looking for food. You feel worse when you see that almost every female bears the ‘Baywatch’ look as our son calls it – with their milk giving ‘tools’ swinging around their undernourished bodies when they run through the streets looking for something to eat and drink. What makes it even worse, is when you stumble upon a thin, dirty litter of puppies or kittens stowed away somewhere where the mom though it to be safe.

The terribleness develop into a depression of sorts when it seems that all you see are stray animals looking for food and you realise that you can’t do enough to help.

Eventually you hear about angel people – some expats, some veterinarians – who try to at least sterilise some of the dogs and cats at own cost.

The next phase is when you walk in the street in the summer heat and you get that familiar smell in your nostrils and then see the decomposing evidence and you think: Ah, thankfully you don’t have to suffer anymore.

The next phase is the most dangerous one. On a hot day when all the different smells of human sweat hangs in the air, mixed with the smell of blood freshly washed off the pavement after a Ramadan slaughter, you find yourself standing in a little shop in Road 9, checking out the cheapest available cat food. Because by now, a very nice looking black-and-white had started following your neighbours’ son back from the gym, your friend down the street had picked up an almost dead kitten and nursed it back to life and when you get home from a function one night, a ginger living in your building had shyly followed you to your front door and after you have checked each other out a few times, you have fetched a bowl of milk one night and rapport had been established.

And after a few more weeks, the once scared, shy, in-survival-mode cat, greets you at the building door and show you to your front door as if it is the bowab (doorman) and cheekily sits and waits for her treat. And when you open the door a few nights later, she only slightly rubs against your leg before pushing past you, and runs perkily ahead, through the house to the other door. And before you know it, you fill an empty butter container with the cheap cat food from that little shop in Road 9. And when you go to the ‘plastic’shop’ the next time, the butter containers get replaced by plastic bowls. And almost without you realising it, you have become a street cat carer.

You shush the male cats away from your garden because they spray and it stinks and they fight with ‘your’ ginger. You know this because you hear the unearthly cries in the middle of the night and you see the ginger fluff rolling past your bedroom window in the slight breeze in the mornings. And you feel surprisingly relieved when you open the blinds and ‘your’ ginger sits there – battle scarred, but alive.

I never thought that I would become one of those crazy persons filling the Internet with writings about cats.

I’m a dog person, after all.

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©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.