Friday 13th……are you superstitious?

Side View’s challenge, “Friday 13th,” reminded me that I did a post on this subject, back in 2010, so I looked it up and gave it a bit of a tweak and some editing.

I’ve never been a superstitious person, but I remember when I was growing up as a child in a small mining community in England, there was much superstition around. People would throw salt over their left shoulder  to ward off evil spirits, especially if you had broken a mirror, which was thought to bring 7 years’ bad luck. One NEVER walked under a ladder, even if it meant stepping off the pavement into the road to avoid doing so.  I could never understand why one would risk being run over by a bus, rather than take a chance with the bad luck thing. Undecided  “Touch wood” was a common saying, after expressing a wish that something bad wouldn’t happen, and if you saw a funeral car or procession, you had to inexplicably touch your collar. I remember putting up my umbrella before stepping out of someone’s front door into the rain, and you’d have thought I’d committed a murder. The fuss and fury that ensued was ridiculous.

Friday 13th has been viewed with dread by many superstitious people over the centuries. The number 13 of course has always been synonymous with ‘bad luck’ and many highrise buildings don’t have a 13th floor. Most airports skip the 13th gate, and airplanes don’t have a seat number 13. Hospitals and hotels regularly don’t have a room 13, and Italians omit the number 13 from their national lottery for fear of bad luck. People who fear the number 13 are known as, ‘triskaidekaphobes.’ Some may argue that their fear is well founded ; there was the ill-fated mission to the moon, ‘Apollo 13’ and it’s believed by some that if you have 13 letters in your name, you will have ‘the devil’s luck.’ Examples given of this, are Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy, and Jack the Ripper. South Africa’s Julius Malema, just misses this by one letter, and I think that his “devil’s luck”  may have almost run out. Wink

Even Friday itself has its bad luck connotations. For example; a bed changed on a Friday will bring bad dreams; any ship sailing on a Friday will have bad luck; never start a trip on a Friday, or you will meet with misfortune; never start to make a garment on a Friday, unless you can finish it the same day, or the wearer will be prone to accidents.

So, as Friday 13th combines these two unlucky entities, it’s no wonder that some folk stay in bed the whole day, afraid to venture out. Did you know that  ‘friggatriskaidekaphobia’ is the name given to people who are afflicted with the morbid, irrational fear of Friday 13th? Quite a mouthful isn’t it, so don’t try to say it, or you could choke, or even lose your false teeth, and that would definitely be bad luck.  It’s thought that as many as 21 million Americans are in the grip of this age old superstition.

As we mark today the second Friday the 13th of 2012, here are some interesting facts about this superstitiously unlucky day:
Friday the 13th is set to creep up upon us yet again in July this year. The most times that the 13th will fall on a Friday in any given calendar year is three, while the longest period without it is 14 months.

On April 13, 2029, a Friday, the asteroid 99942 will make its closest encounter with earth.

US President Franklin Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would not host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and US President Herbert Hoover were also said to suffer from triskaidekaphobia.

In Paris, one can hire a quatorzieme, or a professional 14th guest, to remove the so-called bad luck brought by the number 13, especially on Friday 13th.

Friday the 13th may not be as unlucky as people think. A 2008 Dutch study showed that fewer car accidents, fires and crimes occur on the said day, probably because superstitious would-be victims make an effort to stay at home out of harm’s way.

According to CNBC, the US market has been up 80 times out of the past 140 occasions when the 13th of a month landed on a Friday.

Well, I showed my disdain for this silly superstition, by changing the sheets and pillow cases on our bed this morning. The only bad luck that’s likely to come my way, is that I have to iron them. Cry
Have a great Friday 13th everyone. Chat again soon.

“Birds of a feather” and one large Python, at Monte Casino.

Hi again, everyone. On Easter Sunday morning, we took my mom along to the church we used to attend when living in Johannesburg. It’s quite a large building, but was filled almost to capacity with people from all age groups, from small children to the really elderly. There was a beautiful arrangement at the front, comprising a wooden cross draped with a sparkling white folded sheet and surrounding this, on the ground, were rows of yellow daffodils and white/gold narcissus flowers. So simple, but very lovely. We met a few old friends who we hadn’t seen for a long time, and stayed to chat and catch up with family news. It was a very special time.

In the afternoon, all the family went to the Monte Casino bird gardens, where we watched the show. My mom was enthralled. She loves birds, and sat on the edge of her seat, taking in every new arrival on the scene. Up in the bell tower was an owl, poised for flight, and when called by the trainer, he swooped down onto his hand.

Don’t you just want to stroke these gorgeous soft-looking feathers?

There were pelicans, just like the ones we get around our lake in Florida, and this one loved the limelight, and refused to get out of the water.

The Toucan is called the “clown bird,” for obvious reasons. They always look to me as though they’ve put on a bit too much make-up. Smile

The sweet little kookaburra, brought forth quite a few “oohs” and  “aahs” from the audience,

and the ground hornbill from the Kruger National Park did it’s act with this plastic snake, shaking it until it was dead.

My personal favourite was this darling little rose-breasted cockatoo which was just wandering around on the grass, quite unconcerned, whilst we all gawped at it.

Last but by no means least was this albino Burmese Python. I couldn’t resist having a photo taken with it, and managed to persuade my grandchildren to join me, although they were less than keen.
After the show and a long walk around the gardens to make sure we didn’t miss anything, like this dainty, dancing blue crane,


and the family of pelicans partying by the lake,


we all went for a delicious Indian meal at ‘The Raj” in  the casino. Bird watching can make one quite hungry. Laughing

Hope you’re all having a great day. Chat again soon.




Wonderful wild animal sightings in Johannesburg. ;)

Hi again everybody. I was internet-less whilst away in Johannesburg, but I was having so much fun that I wouldn’t have had time to blog anyway. My Mom was so excited when we arrived on Thursday morning to pick her up for the journey, which was to last for over seven hours. Who would have guessed that anyone could be so happy, sitting in the back of our Jeep for all that time? She is such a positive person, and takes nothing for granted. She remarked on the wonderful cloud formations, the beauty of the countryside, the awesomeness of the rock formations, the prettiness of the Cosmos flowers at the side of the road, and even the good state of the roads. When we stopped for lunch, she laughed and joked all through the meal and seemed to thoroughly enjoy every mouthful, even though it wasn’t fancy at all. When I’m with my Mom, I also seem to see everything through rose-coloured spectacles.

Arriving at our daughter’s house, we were all enveloped in hugs and kisses. It was so great to see them again. Our two grandchildren seem so tall all of a sudden, and our grandson has acquired this amazingly deep voice since the last time we saw him. Mom was given a guided tour of their beautiful house, all the while exclaiming that she would surely get lost in it, and suggesting that someone tie a piece of string around her arm and secure the other end to her bedroom door so that she could find her way back there. Laughing The evening meal was really delicious and we sat around the table chatting and laughing for a long while. Of course, mom was the centre of attention and  loved every moment.

The following day, we all went to the Rhino and Lion Park, just outside Johannesburg, where we had a game viewing drive booked. Of course, ‘Great Gran’ was seated next to the young game ranger, and even from that seat, she entertained us all.

At one point, she exclaimed, “What’s that moving in the distance, over there?” We all looked of course, not wanting to miss seeing anything, and my daughter said, “Yes, I see it. It’s black.” The ranger smiled, and  said, “It’s a car, but I can’t tell what make it is.” I suggested it might be a Jaguar. More laughter ensued.

We didn’t see the wild dogs, but we did see the gruesome remnant of their last feast.

The white Lions were just sitting waiting for us, and the male posed very nicely, together with his two wives.

This Cheetah was lounging right at the side of the road, and hardly acknowledged our presence. A very cool cat indeed.

Here is GT, the King of the Brown Lions, and looking very superior indeed.

He is called “GT” because, according to our guide, he has popped many Goodyear tyres on the private vehicles of tourists. Our ranger explained that he can smell the urine of the owners’ pet dogs, who have used the tyres as a toilet, and so he attacks the tyres to mark his territory. That must be quite scary for the occupants when it happens.

Sadly, we were told that one of the other two male lions will become the dominant one before too long, but to achieve this, he will have to kill GT. Cry

We saw so many animals, too numerous to show you. These Blue Wildebeest which can weigh up to 250kg had set up a creche for their young, and take it in turns to look after and protect them, whilst the others go out hunting for food.

After our drive, we visited the animal creche, and chose to go into the ‘White Bengal Tiger’ enclosure. These beautiful and rare creatures have the most beautiful blue eyes. Their unusual white pigmentation is caused by a recessive gene. Our two grandchildren loved stroking their soft fur.

This one took a real fancy to our granddaughter’s long blonde hair and wanted to get as close as possible to her, for a hug. She had a couple of small scratches on her arm, and a goodly amount of tiger drool in her hair.

It was a really fantastic day; the ranger was so knowledgeable, and we were out with him for almost three hours, instead of the two which he was supposed to give us. Lots of really great memories were made that day, and I’m sure that as you’re reading this, my mom is regaling her friends with all the details.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you a bit more about our Easter weekend.. Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.

Pics of our beach in Umhlanga Rocks, and the intruder in our Florida house. ;)

Hi there again. Here are a few pics taken on our walk today, and also from the beach just below our house.  The path along the beach front has been upgraded, and is looking really nice these days.

Here you can see Durban in the distance, and to the right, you might also be able to make out the huge stadium that was  built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

There were several people on our bit of beach, which is quite unusual except at holiday time. It’s mostly deserted, because it’s not safe to swim here, and there are no lifeguards. Sorry about the curved horizon, due to the wide angle lens. Smile

We were surprised to see that the sea has taken away a lot of the sand which had built up again, and there is now a steep ‘cliff’ to climb down to get to the water’s edge.

I counted sixteen ships waiting to go into the Durban harbour. I wonder what it must be like on these container ships, bobbing about for days on end in the same spot. I think I’d take a rowing boat, and go shopping at Gateway.

Before we left our home in Florida, hubby, a serious gadget-man, set up a remote-controlled camera, so that he can see what, if anything is going on in the house. Here it looks as though we have an intruder walking past my piano….well not really anything to worry about….

It’s the guy who pops in to check on the house every week whilst we’re away. Unfortunately I can’t see if Lizzie is basking in the sun, on the insect screen. I wish I could, ‘cos I miss her. We can also control the temperature and humidity from here, with another special gadget. How cool is that? Wink I had an e-mail from one of my friends, to say that the magazine with my alligator article has been distributed this month. I’m getting a copy sent in the post. Isn’t that so kind of them?

It’s sort of nice being back, but part of me is still over there. I think I prefer the lake and the birds to the sea and the monkeys. Tomorrow we are taking my mom up to Johnnesburg to see our daughter and family for the Easter weekend. There will be four generations of women in the house!

Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.

Ants, my engineer, and a humble toothpick comes into its own ;)

Hi there, everyone.We have now been back home for five days, and I’m almost back to normal. Some of you may remember that I was stressing that the ant armies might have taken over our house in the six months that we were away. I’m happy to report that they weren’t very evident when I sent hubby in first to check.  On the day we left in September, and just as it was time to get in the car to drive to the airport, I suddenly remembered the anti-ant spray which I’d bought, so hubby rushed back inside to spray all around the windows and doors and edges of the kitchen floor. (Now my blog friend, Kragenhai is sure to accuse me once more of being a slave driver, because I didn’t do the deed myself.)  Anyway, when we got back, there were very few live ants, and only tiny ones at that, but there were little piles of dead ones. They had been very  considerate, and had gone into one corner of the dining room and kitchen, to form two neat little heaps,  which were easily vacuumed up. If there are any ant huggers reading my blog, I do apologise if I have offended your sensibilities.  Embarassed Such darling little critters , aren’t they?

Our 28-year-old air conditioner which wasn’t working on our arrival home, and which hubby fixed for about R120, is now running perfectly. One neighbour informed us that even after replacing theirs a few years ago they are still spending thousands on it as they have to keep calling in the repair men. Thanks goodness for a handy husband. He’s saved us a fortune over the years. My son used to call him “daddy-fix-it,” because there was nothing he couldn’t get working again.

I told you that we were going to buy a new dishwasher over the weekend, as ours had finally decided to die on us.. It still looks like new, but over the past year, it’s been getting the hiccups, and we had to keep on restarting it to get it to go. Well, on Thursday evening, hubby said, “Let me have one last try to see if I can fix it.”  He had the front off again, and a short while later, he muttered something about a relay and asked if I had a matchstick. “No, but we have plenty of toothpicks,” I replied.



“That will do,” he said. So out came the toothpicks and a couple of minutes later, he’d jammed a relay on the printed circuit board and now it’s working as good as new again. It’s great to be married to an engineer. They’re real problem solvers, and he has the patience of Job. He needs it, being married to me, because I’m technologically and mechanically challenged. It was a marriage made in Heaven. I do the cooking and ironing etc., and he just keeps everything running smoothly. A couple of years ago he fixed my sister’s AEG dishwasher for R5 , the cost of  a component, after she had been quoted over R2,000 by the repair company.

It’s cooled down nicely here, after an apparently hot and humid summer. We’re now into that wonderfully mild and temperate KZN autumn weather, which I enjoy immensely. We shall take a stroll up to the village this morning, and have a look at the holiday makers down here for the Easter break.

Have a great day, everyone. Chat again soon.



My local lighthouse, for Francine ;)

Hi there, everyone. I put a few photos on my blog the other day, of the beach where we live in South Africa. Francine, spotted the lighthouse in the distance and told me that she loves lighthouses, and collects pictures of them. So here is a close up pic of the Umhlanga lighthouse near Durban. It’s a 21 metre circular concrete tower painted white with a red top, and is fully automatic. It was completed in 1954 and has been the subject of numerous paintings and memorabilia. Built to replace the Bluff lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1869 but had to be abandoned due to its rapid deterioration, it stands guard to some of the most treacherous waters of Southern Africa and not only warns ships of the hidden dangers, but the flashing light is also a welcome to the ships sailing into the safety of the Durban harbour.

Umhlanga means Place of Reeds in Zulu, and refers to the beds of reeds that accumulate on the banks of the Ohlanga River a few kilometers north of Umhlanga Rocks. An interesting fact is that the lighthouse has never had a keeper, as the Oyster Box Hotel, which was built in 1869 and was originally the first beach cottage in the area, has been the official warden. The lighthouse controls are in the hotel office where they are monitored by the staff, who report to Portnets Lighthouse Service.

On December 1st, 2009, the lighthouse was transformed overnight, when it was covered with a giant ‘condom’ to signify and celebrate World Aids Day. I remember that some locals were less than impressed with this initiative, but most people thought it was a great and novel idea, which highlighted a very real problem, especially in our province.

Whilst I was away in the States last year, my sister did a painting of the lighthouse for me, as a Birthday present.

Yesterday, hubby and I went off up the hill to my sister’s house for lunch. My dear Mom was there too, and we had a lovely family reunion, with non-stop conversation, around a table full of delicious food and wine. You can well imagine that after six months of not seeing one another, there was a lot to talk about. Laughing

Hope you all had a great weekend. Chat again soon.