Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth, Eskom and more on Teeth


Youngest has her first ever wobbly tooth! She proudly showed it off to me this afternoon and then was excited to discover that it is in fact not just one wobbly tooth, but both the bottom front ones wobbling in unison. Middle Daughter whispered to me that she suspects that I am the tooth fairy, but I am hoping that she'll keep quiet about that until Youngest has enjoyed the thrill of at least one visit from the tooth fairy.


Big Brother Eskom is Watching You!

Yesterday in honour of Earth Day, Charlotte wrote about Emily's Ecojustice environmental challenge for anyone who wants to cut down their environmental impact - read about it here. I blithely commented that I can rely on Eskom to do my bit for me - we're having scheduled two hour electricity outages every Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8am-10am, to help control South Africa's energy crisis at the moment.

But at least it's a regular slot, now we know about it, we can plan ahead and our indispensable computers have back up now. My clever husband has got a truck battery wired up to the UPS, so that we both have at least two hours work time in reserve after the power goes off.

However I have sneaking suspicion that Eskom are tracking mentions of them in blog comments worldwide, as they took me up on my blog comment pledge today: we had our regular 2 hour black out in the morning, then the lights came back on at 10 sharp (or 10.05 anyway which is extremely sharp when you're on Africa time). I went to celebrate by switching on the kettle for a cup of tea. A lethargic whisper emanated instead of the usual roar from my previously enthusiastic work horse of streamlined Italian design.

Ten minutes later it still hadn't boiled. Still it was under guarantee and maybe the power outages had given it a nervous breakdown, so as I was doing my weekly shop anyway this afternoon, I packed it up in its box to take straight in for replacement.

A bit later we also noticed that the water pressure was non-existent. Help - a power surge must have blown the pump too. An SOS to the electrician went out.

As I returned from picking up the kids from school Eskom played its wild card and the power went off AGAIN. This time our computer back up batteries declined the challenge, gave some rapid beeps and blacked out my computer.

So we spent an entire afternoon rediscovering traditional values, without the benefits of modern conveniences: my husband read for two solid hours to Middle Daughter on the sofa, where she is in her third day of flu residency. I would like to say that I harnessed up the pony to a trap, to head off to town to market… but that would be fiction taking over …so I used our petrol guzzling car instead.

I traded in the mal-functioning kettle. They didn't have the same smartly designed model in stock any more, so I lost my cool, rational, tasteful approach and chose a space age, gimmicky one that lights up in different colours when it boils and has a huge window so you can see the water boiling! At least it would entertain the children and it was made by a reputable British manufacturer...

I arrived at our gate at the same time as the electrician, who had come to save us from the trials of a night with no water. I walked in through our door to find power had just been restored and miraculously, wonder of wonders, the pump was now working just fine. The brain cogs ground slowly into gear and at least ten minutes later I started wondering if perhaps the kettle had not actually broken at all.

Maybe I have traded in a perfectly good, well designed kettle, for one that looks like it's about to launch into space at any minute, for no reason at all…aaagh!

We must have been on half power for the second half of the morning - lights working fine, but pumps and kettles and battery chargers not functioning at all well.

So this energy saving day turned out not so green after all. One perfectly good kettle is winging its way back to the manufacturers and the electrician had a wasted journey, but at least I can relax in the glow of my new lava-lamp-lookalike kettle and wonder how to turn off the light in it to save energy at night.


  1. frustrating. Do many people do solar or wind power over there?

  2. How maddening. But I admire how you take so well to traditional living!

  3. Oh, and I wanted to say my oldest has just seen the light re the Tooth Fairy, FC and the Easter Bunny, but has promised to keep schtum. She's enjoying sharing the secret with me.

  4. What lovely memories, I remember when my son lost his first tooth, he hid it so well the tooth fairy couldn't find it!

  5. We're desperately wanting to be able to afford enough solar power panels to be free of the grid - hoping new technology will bring the price down.

    WE have plenty of wind and sun here - enough to make a huge difference but with Eskom having had a monopoly on power for so long it takes a while for them to realise they should actually develop alternative means of production - rather than relying on an elderly nuclear power plant and fuel guzzling generating plants... there are three beautiful wind turbines fairly near us, which i hope they will develop into a wind farm. We'll see.

  6. Hi, I made your Malva pudding, full credit to you, it was very good. Have posted the pictures and your recipe, hope you don't mind.

  7. Oh dear - bloody load-shedding! As a result of the load shedding in PE, one of the substations literally blew up - apparently the circuits/switches/gizmos inside weren't designed to be switched on and off daily and caught fire. It meant that the suburb where my father and his brother live had no power for 6 days and nights. Think about that. Think about everything you have in your freezer and fridge spoiling if you can't eat it on day 1. Think abotu no hot water for 6 days (wiht a toddler and a baby in the house). Think about no burglar alarm (as the backup battery only lasts for a day or so) and every crime syndicate in town being aware of this situation.

    I am so angry with Eishkom I could scream. Why on earth did they think forward-planning was unnecessary? And why are they not using the oppoprtunity now to invest heavily in solar/wind/wave power? South Africa is sooooo well-endowed in all three these departments!

    Still giggling at your kettle story. Beam me up, Scotty!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!