Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Vegetarians and Vegans

On Saturday I was at a party. It was the end of year party of our poetry group and one of the most enjoyable I have been to. The food was great, the company was excellent and the poems were of a very high standard too. While surveying the most wonderfully varied choice of snacks, the subject of Vegetarianism came up and with it the idea of the exploitation of animals. Somebody saying how poor cows were forced to produce more milk than was natural and chicken kept to lay eggs etc. Now, I am against animals suffering, but I am not sure that the exploitation of animals is the evil that some  animal lovers believe. Think of all the animals we share our world with. There are those we  use for our own purposes, and those we compete with for living space and food. The first multipy and thrive, the others are pushed towards extinction, unless preserved in game parks and reserves and there, of course exploited too, to make money as tourist attractions.

Animals do have feelings, but are we right when we equate their emotions with ours. I am reminded of friends from our dog club who asked me to sign a petition against using  animals in circuses.  "These creatures, " they said. " are put in cages, taken all round the country and made to perform tricks." I said that I thought it a bit hypocritical of us to condemn the practice, because it was exactly what we were doing with our dogs. We train them to run Agility courses, take them to events in different places and keep them in cages at shows when not competing. I am not just trying to justify it when I insist that the dogs simply love it. You just have to see my terrier's excited reaction when he is taken to a show.  Just because animals are made to work, doesn't mean that they are unhappy or badly treated. We may prize freedom, but do animals feel the same way? An animal in a well-run Zoo, kept safe and fed regularly is probably happier than the same creature in the wild, often hungry and in constant danger of predators or if a predator itself, in competition with other dangerous animals. We may get sentimental about the natural life in the great wide open spaces, but given the choice, we nearly all opt for a safe suburbia ourselves.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

All Souls Day

All Saint's, All Soul's and Halloween  all come at the same tine of year and I get them muddled. I am also confused about "the Day of the Dead. "  Is this the same as All Soul's Day?  At the churches where I worshiped previously neither All Saint's nor All Soul's was  celebrated. I always knew that the name Halloween meant Saint's Eve, so presumably it is the day before All Saint's day, but because of all the skulls and skeletons you see at Halloween, I thought it had something to do with the dead and so I thought the day on which one remembered the dead was the day before the day you remembered the saints.  I believed that All Soul's day came before All Saint's Day. I was very surprised to read the instructions in our latest pew leaflet. We were told, last week, to go to church on Wednesday evening as it was All Saint's Day and  again on Thursday evening for All Soul's day. So I must remember Nov 1 all Saints, Nov 2 All Souls. First remember the goodies and then all the other dead people.

Now that I am a member of  All Saint's parish , Muizenberg I am very aware of the date of our patronal festival. So I know that the actual day was Wednesday. But because not everyone can attend church in the week, there was just a short service on Wednesday and we waited until today for the proper celebration. We had a simply glorious service for this special day. The church was shining clean and full of flowers, the Youth band produced most joyful music and we had a scrumptious tea afterwards.

I had intended to go to the evening service on Wednesday. I even told Luke, who was to spend the night here, that I would leave his supper for him in the oven, if I was not there when he came.  I had been very busy all day making marmalade for the Evergreen Craft market which was to take place on Friday and just did not make it to church. I got everything ready. I put the meat and veg in the oven, sat down for a few minutes and fell fast asleep, only waking when Luke arrived. The pork rashers were a little overcooked, but thankfully not burnt. he was ravenous and didn't mind.

So having missed out on All Saint's, I attended the All Soul's service the next day. . It was quite a moving service. After the prayers when we remembered those that had died, we went up to the altar and lit candles for them. There were not very many of us in the congregation. The Parish council  had catered for a larger group and there were enough candles for each of us to light more than one. I thought of all those dear to me who had died. So many of my family, so many of my friends.
I made a mental list as I went up and lit candles. First, my Grandmother, who died when I was still at school. My aunt Bobby who lived with us died when I was at university, my father I lost when I was in my twenties, married and living in Zambia, my father-in-law died the same year. My mother-in-law died many years later when we were living in George, my other aunt Dorothy died at much the same time, but I don't remember exactly when. My husband died seventeen years ago. My eldest Daughter died eight years ago. After my husband's

  death I moved to Cape Town to be near my grandson and my youngest daughter(who have both since moved away, of course) . When I moved  I  had family living here as well as a number of old friends. almost none of them are left. I have out-lived them all. I was one of the youngest of my generation and had numerous older cousins. Of these I was very close to Jerry and Brian .Both died a few years ago. Closest of my friends were Poelie, Liz, Catherine and Helen  Of them only Liz is still alive and she is senile and bedridden. Why am I still around? I ask myself.

Yesterday I went to a wedding. It was a delightful occasion. I found myself becoming tearful. Why after all these deaths, do I cry at a wedding.Perhaps because it was such a welcome change from all the funerals and  wakes or  ("celebrations of a life") that I have been to lately.


Today I remember:
my Granny, who showed me how to sew,
and knit and darn my father’s woollen socks,
my Dad who didn’t say too much, but taught me
some Maths and some 
basic carpentry.
my Aunt, who gave me lessons in the pruning
of bougainvillea creepers, fruit trees and rose bushes,
my Mother who  introduced me to books,
my daughter Dot, who taught me patience among other things
my friends, Catherine, Poelie, Helen
with whom, I spent so many pleasant hours.

And last, I light a candle for my husband .Mike.
My hand shakes and the hot wax burns my palm.
”Butterfingers” he would have said. “Let me do that for you.

It's still hard to live without him.