Pencil Full of Lead


My blog has taken a bit of a backseat this past month because I’ve been kept gloriously busy on a number of other  fronts and very preoccupied with the latest addition to our family, a puppy called Buddy.

After Milo died, Layla became quite morose so we have known for some time that we had to get her another companion. Last month I visited the SPCA in Howick hoping to find a young dog, already house-trained and in need of a home. However, when I got there a litter of 7 week-old puppies had just been brought in. The mother was a “township” dog, who I met and was very sweet but the father was unknown. As I walked into the pen one of the puppies came to investigate. I picked him up and he nuzzled me and when I crouched down to put him back, he tried to climb onto my lap. It was mutual love at first sight. A few days later, we brought Buddy home and Layla was not impressed. She sniffed him and then tried to get as far away as possible from the rambunctious little tyke that we had presented her with. However it only took a couple of days before he managed to worm his way into her affections and now they are the best of friends; they play all day and snuggle up together at night. He has given Layla a new lease of life and has totally enchanted all of us, including my mother, who adores him. She calls him Goody because she can’t, for some obscure reason, get her tongue around Buddy but I must admit he does bear an uncanny resemblance to the Thin Blue Line’s Constable Goody.

Buddy, watching the sunset

Buddy, watching the sunset

I don’t actually know where the name Buddy came from – I would like to say that he was named after my favourite Salinger character, Buddy Glass, but that would be a tad pretentious and simply not true. From the moment I clapped eyes on him, Buddy just seemed appropriate.

Yes, and then I’ve been teaching a class of Zulu-speaking 4 year olds, which has been “interesting” to say the least. Actually I love it but it is a challenge from the communication point of view. So last week I took Thandi (our domestic worker) with me to help with translating and we had a lot of fun. But I also learned some hard facts. I’ve created a really nice classroom with equipment that the school had stashed away in a storeroom and in the classroom I’ve made a small book corner, using some cushions from home. To encourage the children to come and look at the books, I sat on one of the cushions and took out a copy of one of my all-time favourite children’s books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Slowly but surely, some of the children came and sat on the cushions next to me. I started reading to them, with Thandi translating. Now, for those of you who do not know the story, it’s essentially about a caterpillar turning into a butterfly – a simple story with a great message; obviously it’s educational but what I love is that it is a wonderful metaphor for all transformation. So we get to the end of the story where the caterpillar eats its way out of its cocoon and turns into a beautiful butterfly, and Thandi, who left school after grade 10, turned to me and said, “Hawu, is that true?” She had absolutely no idea that caterpillars turn into a butterflies. I am greatly saddened by this revelation and have decided that, if nothing else, my four year olds will know, by the end of this year, all there is to know about metamorphosis.

So, other than looking after my puppy and teaching, I have also been fundraising for the school. A couple of months ago I submitted an application for funding to establish a science centre at the Curry’s Post Primary School (my first fundraising effort in a very long time). I wasn’t that confident about the proposal since this is a very small farm school that we’re talking about. However recently I was informed that the funding had been approved and naturally, I was cock-a-hoop. A few hours later I discovered that my music idol, Paolo Nutini, was going to be playing at Kirstenbosch in Cape Town the next week. I was still quite euphoric about my funding success and after a few yelps and shrieks, I convinced myself that this was the universe’s way of rewarding me. I was on a roll when I called Alex to plan a trip to Cape Town that combined seeing him as well as Paolo. And that’s when I learned a life lesson. Our kids are not always as eager to see us as we are to see them.

Alex mumbled something about not being such a great fan of Paolo and I literally had to beg him to accompany me to the concert. I was mightily pissed off. However after my initial disappointment with my son’s lack of enthusiasm about my visit, I began to feel strangely reassured. It is good to know that he’s got a life of his own and sometimes I need to be reminded that so have I! I booked in to a guesthouse in Woodstock and proceeded to make my own arrangements for my stay in Cape Town. I had a ball, while Peter very kindly held the fort. And just so you know, Alex really enjoyed the concert. Paolo was amazing; I can now tick that one off the bucket list.

the lad himself, doing me the honour of taking him out for dinner

the lad himself, doing me the honour of taking him out for dinner

the concert setting

the concert setting, how stunning is that?

Kirstenbosch Tree Top Walk

Kirstenbosch Canopy Walk


lunch with my sister and brother -in-law Debbie  and Richard at the Kitchen in Woodstock

lunch with my sister and brother-in-law Debbie and Richard at the Kitchen in Woodstock

another shot of Woodstock

another shot of Woodstock

This one is for Al – will always remind me of being stuck in Cape Town rush hour traffic with you.


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4 Responses to Pencil Full of Lead

  1. michele harpur says:

    Great stuff on the funding. From reading point of view, perhaps contact Rally to Read and see if they will put you school on the next rally. 3 year programme with portable libraries delivered to rural schools.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Michele, will definitely give it a try. The Michaelhouse Mobile Library visits the school and we are in the process of setting up a school library with books donated by READ. But one can never have enough books!

  2. lulurob says:

    Wonderful busy life, having the time of your life! My daughter took me to Paolo Nutini at Kirstenbosch, fabulous!! Wouldn’t it have been something if we had bumped into each other?
    Love your new buddy, Buddy aka Goody 🙂

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