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Saturday, April 8, 2017

April 8, 2017

In 2 and ½ hrs. I leave for Lourdes. I took my shower and put my elastic stockings on and determined to finish my Blog before I leave.  On getting back from Mthatha, I was asked to visit the husband of friend who was sick in a hospital in Pietermaritzburg, about 80km. from Durban (50 miles), so on Tuesday the 21st I went up to the hospital and, after a few miscalls, (not the right name---thanks for cell phones I was able, on the spot, to get the right name) I managed to find him in the ICU.(intensive care unit). He was not in good shape and had all kinds of pipes and drips and what not all, including down his throat and an oxygen mask, but was not conscious. I asked the nurse what the problem was and she said his lungs were hemmoraging. Not good. I prayed for him out loud, hoping that he could hear, and blessed him putting him in the hands of his creator and left. I phone his wife and told her that if they still want to see him alive, they should hurry, like NOW. I don’t know if they ever got to see him because it is far from Mthatha (Maybe 5 hours by car and more by bus), but he has since passed away. I am happy that I hurried to see him before he was called from this earth.
     I did some home visiting in the meantime and, with your contributions, helped several students with their student debts. They thanked me and I told them that I would thank you since it comes from y’all.
    I also saw the eye doctor, Casandra, who checked the pressure in my eyes, which was good, but the right eye has lost a bit of its power and I will probably have to get some new glasses soon.
    One of our retired bishops moved off to Germany to live with his widowed sister. She lives in a big empty house and asked him to do her that favorw. He did. And I had the privilege to give him his final haircut before he left. I am sure that no one in Germany can match that!!!
     This (27th to 30th) was the last week to do my grass cutting and bush chopping so I was at it morning and afternoon to finish what I wanted before the orthroscopy which took place on Friday, the 31st.
    I had gone to the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Naidoo, to ask why my left knee always seemed to be sore when the right knee was OK. He sent me for an x-ray (you know how it is in a hospital, being sent from Peter to Paul and back for this, that and the other.) Anyway, I managed to get the x-ray (he already had it on his screen in his office) and he showed me where the cartilage was gone so the bones were rubbing and knocking on each other and making some bony sawdust. I had asked for Friday the 31st (he operates on Fridays) for the procedure since I would be leaving a week later for Lourdes and foresaw lots of walking and processions etc. and wanted to have a refurbished knee to deal with that.
     It was an in and out deal. I got there by 10:30 and went through the paper work (that took over an hour and many, many questions). Then, changing into the hospital  supplied drawers and the diorre gown, and the wait. The op was supposed to be at 1:30 and at 10 past 1, I still hadn’t heard anything. (I finished reading half of Maya Angelou’s book “ I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. I was glad I brought it along. But it was cold and I was sitting on a bed (not wanting to give any indication that I was determined to go home the same day so not wanting to get into that bloody bed) but eventually because I was freezing ( I had my usual shorts on ) I gave in and got under to covers.
    About 20 past 1, some nurses came with a trolley bed and got me to get up there and wheeled me off into the unknown. We got stuck in the traffic at the elevator (lift) and finally managed to work our way down to the parking lot next to the operating theatre. There, some kind nurse covered me with a beautifully warm blanket and a thick duvet on top of that. It was heavenly.
    Then the anesthetist came ( I had a glance at the doctor on our way to his premises) to tell me about the anesthetic, and stuck it in my are so expertly that I didn’t even feel the needle going in. Of course, I cooperated fully by supplying him with an array of beautiful veins to pick from. We were instantly friends.
     After he did that, I waited and waited and waited, wondering when are we going to the theatre. Ha. When I asked one of the nurses, she said I was already back. Ha. That was neat.
     After some time in the outgoing parking lot, I Was taken back to my bed where I then got dressed with my own clothes, and there was this huge bandage on my left knee. The doctor said that I would be able to walk out just like I walked in, and he was right, but not quite. There was a special hobble that I learned.
    While I was waiting, again sitting on the bed, not wanting to get under the covers although I was cold again, people were asking what I wanted for breakfast. Ha, I am going home. What would you like for supper. Ha. I am going home. But as time ticked on , I was getting nervous. I thought that the whole thing would be over and I could be picked up by my life (Bishop Khumalo) by 4pm. It was now past 6:30 and no one seemed to be aware that I am going home now.
    I finally went up to the nurses station and mentioned that I was going home and what did I have to do to get discharged. They gave me a chair to sit next to them (I didn’t want to remain near that bed) and then they gave the go ahead to be released but only when my lift picked me up and came to them first. I phoned Bishop Khumalo and he was on his way. When he came, after signing some more papers ( I had already furnished a proof of payment because I knew that they won’t let anyone go unless you have paid every last penny owed to the hospital. No lay away plan).
     I hobbled out with the bishop and  tried to have a bit to eat when I got home but my throat was really sore and after trying to push something down my gullet, I finally gave up because my throat was refusing, (and I was coughing up a lot of phlegm) I just had a drink of milk and went to bed.
    Amazingly, I slept well , and discovered that turning from side to side didn’t seem to bother that knee. However, because I had already cut whatever grass needed cutting, I was really lazy for most of the week, with long stints on top of the bed just resting, afraid to do something to damage the knee. However, I drove to the hospital every morning for Mass and seemed to survive OK. I also drove a bit, but not much, to do a bit of shopping and didn’t walk much. The doctor didn’t give me a list of do’s and don’t so I was afraid to blow it.
    In the meantime, the leader of the pilgrimage to Lourdes phoned, worried because he had been told that I am “sick”. His wife also phoned with the same news (I remember Mark Twain’s comment when he saw his obituary in the newspaper---something like the account of my death is greatly exaggerated) and when I explained that it was just my knee that I was nursing a bit, she suggested that I get a wheelchair at the airport. Bu  I told her that I doubted that I would need a wheelchair. However, it put a bug in my ear and now I was nervous, so I drove to the doctor to ask for a letter from the doctor for the wheelchair. That sounded strange to me because I thought that I really don’t need a letter from my doctor to tell someone that I am an old man now and just get tired and would love to have a wheelchar., But when a friend heard about this, she   accused me of being a proud, macho thinking priest and I should be ashamed of myself, too proud to be seen in a wheelchair. Well, when someone hits the nail on the head like that what can one do. So, the wheelchair is ordered as well as an aisle seat near the toilet. How’s that for cooperation.
     I helped with confessions at a few parishes, driving on my own, as people prepare for Easter.

So that’s the story. In a half hour I am off to the airport and I will you all a deeply spiritual experience during Holy Week and a lovely, hope and joy filled Easter. I will catch you when I get back, which is the day after Easter.   Cas.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 8, 2017
Really not much has been happening to tell about. Pretty normal.
I have been back and forth to St. Francis College to try to get a child that has serious Diabetes, but , because of her condition (Grade 8), most hostels are reluctant to take her. She can have and episode at any time. Thank goodness, her mom found a place not far from where she lives and works in Durban.
    There are several students who have approached me for help to pay off their student loans. They can’t move forward or are not given their results unless they pay up. You guys have helped a lot with your donations. Without an education, there is just no hope. Even with an education it is not easy.
     I spent a lot of time getting quotations for the jumper cables and electric tire pump, but don’t think that the insurance is interested. We shall see.
    Do you remember when we were kids how the sisters would make us protect our books with wrapping paper. Well, I did one of those on my SA  ID. It was in tatters and I just recalled my old skills and used an old paper bag to do the trick. Like new. Except for the picture. I am afraid to show it. It looks as though I just walked out of an Al Kaida training camp. Angry, and a kind of get-out-of –my-way look, or I’ll make you history. Ha. Must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed that day.
     I had Mass on Sun. the 26th at an Indian Parish called Our Lady of Vailankanni. It was the 40th day remembrance of the death of Neil Gabriel, the one who passed away a few hours after fixing my brake light. It was the ordinary parish mass with a special remembrance of him. A lunch was served by the family afterwards. I met his wife and daughters who are still trying to absorb his passing. He was never sick a day in his life, never been in the hospital, never saw a doctor. I guess it emphasizes the need to remember the old Boy / Girls Scouts’ motto…always be prepared.
    Because I feel so vulnerable now, the car standing outside in front of our house, I had an alarm put in and an immobilizer. I used some of the money that you had given for the needs of the poor. I hope that that is OK with you all.
    Once the Insurance company approved of it, I had another radio fitted in that has a built in hands free. Wow. Not only that but I can now pretend to be a taxi, pull up along side some innocent driver, and, with my window open, turn up the volume and blast him sideways against the curb. Ha. It is toooo powerful.
     I had two masses on Ash Wednesday, one at the hospital (full crowd but not that many Catholics, but they all came up to receive the ashes) and the other at Savannah park around 6:30 when people get off of work. That was also crowded. Even a good number of men. Holy Moses.
     On Feb. 2nd, day after Ash Wednesday, we had a special Mass at the hospital in remembrance of one of our priests, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig, who died of typhus in Dachau. He is considered a martyr because he volunteered to look after the inmates who had typhus, caught it himself, and died, shortly before they were liberated. He was made a blessed a few months ago, the last step before being canonized. We are asking him to look after Fr. Guy and use his influence on the Lord to restore his health and get rid of his cancer. I hope he is listening.
     I also, finally, picked up some jumper cables  and then later an electric pump (this one you connect to the battery). Both necessary if you are traveling in the bush.
     Sat, March 4th, was the feast of St. Casimir, we say, my feast day. No big fuss because it is in lent. My bad luck. However, I gave myself an exemption and had a glass of Scotch that evening to celebrate. I don’t’ think the Lord minded.
     Also, on that day, Bishop Lobinger , a fellow 89yr. old inhabitant of our old folk’s home took me to a place called Giba Gorge, about 20 minutes from here on a part of what used to be the original Mariannhill Farm. Amazing. This is where they have the bicycle jumps and there are also a few firms operating there. I have been around here for 50 yrs. and had no clue that it was there. Google it, GIBA GORGE, South Africa, and see what you get. If you come this way, I will take you there and we can have a glass of wine and some delicious home made pizza.
     I have been doing a lot of work in our garden (If I can find a way to attach a picture of two I will do it). It is more a wilderness than a garden. I gave up cutting the grass for the time being till I can get things more under control there. Lots of work with a bush knife and huge clippers, and, occasionally the axe and pick, to dig out the left over small stumps that kill the weed eater ‘cause you can’t see them in the thick grass. But it has been really hot, late 89’s and 90’s even up to 99F. Plus the humidity. I hang the shirt on the back porch to dry out in the sun and wind.
     I have been bothered with my left knee which complains if you don’t treat it right. It is willing to work but lets you know that it is tired. The right knee seems to be as good as new. So today  I went to see the Orthopedic surgeon to ask him what’s happening. He had me get an x-ray, and then discovered that the cartilage between the two big bones is completely gone. ( I guess that I am starting to fall apart) so the bone is grinding on the other bone. I said I don’t really feel unbearable pain but I just know that something isn’t right. He said that he can go up with a scope and some other instrument to clean out the debris ( like sawdust, or detritus from the grinding) and make it nice again for a while. Maybe it will last a couple of years. Then he showed me the artificial knee that they put in for those whose knee is totally finished. Holy Moses. It is all ready to go. All you have to do it to connect the top part to the upper bone and the bottom part to the bottom bone and bob’s your uncle. All the rest is pre-made. But lot’s of work and bloody expensive.
     Because of the longevity of my family  (grandpa died at 97 and my aunt Rose in Chicago celebrated her 90th birthday last month. She’s the one who Skypes me and also send an email, sent, as she says, from my I-Pad.) At least  I know now what is happening with the knee. We shall see as time goes on. I still have lots of work to do and the doctors say to go for it, but to let him know when the pain (there is no real pain now, just a kind of discomfort) gets too much and then he will do his thing, but not the replacement, YET.
      One of these days I will get around to letting you know who you all helped and how much we spent helping people in different ways as the economy is really killing. Among other things, we were able to help a family get off the hook with a huge water bill. I am sure that the meter was never read but the bill was just a thumb suck.
     So , that is life. I will try to be a bit more faithful with this blog in the future, but I am sure that my way to hell is paved over with years and years of good intentions.
     We are slowly but surely heading for winter. It is dark now when I go for Mass to the hospital, but still very hot.
     Oh, I have been reading a few books. “Man’s search for  Meaning” by Victor Frankl, a Psychiatrist who managed to survive a concentration camp, and  a book by Kuebler Ross, of Death and Dying fame. I am using some of her things in my sermons. She was a fantastic woman. I have two other books that I am going through at the moment, when I get time.
     Oh, one last thing, very unusual. It was very very hot last Sunday, so after I came back from my Mass at Savannah Park, I rested for while (it was after lunch) and I had no energy at all. I t was just sucked out of me by the heat. So I went down to the TV room and watched two Rugby games then got into some movies and was touched by a movie named War Room. Kind of religiousy but not overdone I thought, and I was surprised that our secular society would even allow such a film to be shown. You just never know.
    Stay well till next time. Cas.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Feb. 20, 2017
Wow! Again. Where does the time go!!! Almost two months. Holy Moses. Well, lets’ try to summarize.
   Aside from the grass cutting, lots of requests for help have come in…repairing or building a house, school fees, other needs for school, emergencies for people, school debts that have to be cleared up before their test results will be released, grannies trying to support the grandchildren that have been left to their care (many are the children of parents both of whom have died), etc. etc. etc. I am keeping track of what went where and to whom and, if I get around to it, a kind of profile of people we have been able to help because of the contributions you made for just that.
     I was really caught off guard when a friend whom I have known as a teen ager and who has been looking after my vehicle needs passed away suddenly. I was with him and his wife one Wed. evening, discussing family things when I remembered that someone had pointed out that one of my brake lights wasn’t working. When I mentioned that to him, he immediately jumped up out of his chair, took a look at the lights and replace a burnt out bulb with a spare that he had at home. When he finished that we went back into the house and continued our conversation. I left there about 9:15 at night. The next morning, after cutting the grass for most of the morning when my phone was on my desk, I checked a message and was told that he, Neil, had passed away at 6am the next morning, about 8 ½  hours since he put in the new globe. Never been to a doctor or hospital. Never sick. Wow, what a shock. Now next Sunday I will celebrate a memorial Mass for him and the family on the 40th day since we took him to the crematorium.
    I have been saying Mass every day, Mon. to Fri. at the hospital to claim our space there. Sometimes there is no one there but mostly a few of the staff come to get nourished for the day’s work in the hospital.
     Fr. Macarius, who is now almost completely blind has been suffering terrible itching so I took him to a dermatologist, Dr. Reddy. She was very kind and prescribed for him all kinds of creams, especially for his back. He seems to have gotten a lot of relief from that, but he still, from time to time has problems and he thinks that it has something to do with what he eats that he may be allergic to.
     From the 18th to the 25th, I was in Cape Town. Our travel agent was so kind as to offer to pay for the flight as a kind of gift. It was a beautiful gift and I was able to connect with many old friends that I hadn’t been able to see for years now. Being near the Atlantic, I ate a lot of fishy stuff. Ha. I am a carnivore, but I want to support local industry. I  put up at a friend’s place, a fellow retiree, and he was so kind as to cook for me regularly when we didn’t go out for a bite. He spoiled me, but I am not complaining. It was great to be with him. We concelebrated almost every day at a convent where he helps out regularly during his retirement. How does a priest retire???
     A few days after I returned from C.T. I headed off to Mthatha for our Provincial Chapter ( a meeting of all the Mariannhill guys who belong to the Mthatha province, like me, to get reports on who is doing what and to tackle problems and make plans for the coming year…things that have to be done, etc. ) It was hectic and the days were full as the meetings lasted for the whole day for two days. The last day, Feb. 2nd, is our Feast day, the Presentation of the Lord. It is the day when we re-present ourselves to the Lord by renewing our vows. It was also the 50th anniversary of priesthood for one of our confreres, Fr. Winfried, and I was given the honor of presenting the homily for him . He had asked me not to canonize him that day so I told him we would put that off till the next day. Ha. I had also been asked by the Provincial to get him the gift of a book. I phoned him to ask what kind of book he would like. He said, “history”. I pushed him further and then he said something about Trump. So I got him something about Trump that is very recent, 2016. I hope it helps him to understand what kind of person the world is having to deal with…some call him a serial liar… others say he is a psychopath…other have other ways of describing him, so, maybe the book helps him to understand who he really is and where he is coming from and where to he is taking.  Us and the world to.
     The next happening is that I was invited, some time back, to give the homily (sermon) at the memorial of Archbishop Denis Hiurley’s 12th anniversary of his passing. Many people say that he is the best Cardinal that Africa never had. He was an icon and the foremost fighter against apartheid (among us Catholics) here in South Africa. A truly great man, head and shoulders above any one else in our Catholic clan. I was scared thinking that for a man of such stature, they should have a Cardinal or at least an Archbishop to do that job, but the ones responsible for organizing insisted that my name was top of the list so I reluctantly, and hesitatingly, and scarily, agreed. I preached at all 4 masses, 3 in English and one in Zulu. Ha. My Zulu. I even go to tell a joke that he told long ago to emphasize that he had, among other things, a great sense of humor. The first mass was on Saturday at 5:45 after the opening or the Denis Hurley Museum, and the Cardinal was there as well as the main celebrant. I had to laugh because it is the first time that he had to listen to me preaching. Usually it is the other way around. The Sunday Masses, 7:45 (English), 10:00 (English and Zulu) and 12:00 (Zulu) were packed. I didn’t sit down from about 7:20 as I got dressed for the first Mass till 2pm when finally all was over. I was exhausted, but very happy to have this honor, privilege, event behind me. I thought that now I could relax but that very Sunday night, or early Mon. morning my car and three others , was broken into (again) and the radio and hands free were stolen as well as the spare tire (which we later found abandoned in the bush). They got into the car by smashing a small window in the back and using that way to pull up the locks and get into the car and open the boot (trunk) to remove the spare wheel. Of course that meant police report, insurance report, replace the broken window, run around getting quotes, all of which took most of the week, with the normal stuff squeezed in between. I have to go now as we are being called to lunch. See you  a bit later
    I am back and it is about3 hrs. later…8:30pm.
I continue to get up at 4am every morning and go to the hospital for a  6am Mass. We just want to claim our space. I usually visit the patients to whom I bring communion and have some interaction with some of the other patients as well.
    I get back to MD (Mater Dolorosa… the name of our Old Folks home…for breakfast and, if it isn’t raining, I work outside in the garden for a bit. In the morning, watch the news at 10am (What nonsense did Trump get up to since yesterday, always entertaining) and have lunch and a nap (usually a half hour to an hour) and then tackle things here at the computer.
     I seem to have the housewife’s syndrome, e.g. I am always tired. Ha. It has been really hot (in the 90’s) for most of last week, and it drains the energy out of one. I have visited a few homes, and kept myself busy on the whole but in the evening, I had even given In to the urge to jump into the fart sack early, even as early as 8:30 sometimes. What is happening to me!!!
    Hey, I just got a notice from the insurance company that they will pay to replace the car radio that was stolen so I went and picked it up. Now it has to be installed and I don’t have a clue.
    I also have to renew my passport which will expire in October this year after 10 yrs. That also means that I will have to go to Home Affairs to have my permanent residence permit transferred over to my new passport, when ever I will get it.
    Tomorrow I will be trying to help a lady get her child into St. Francis College. The child has severe diabetes and the least change in her diet brings on almost coma-like collapses. She would like for her to study here but the hostel is full. The secretary said it might be better to try to get her in as a day student. There are quite a few who come from the middle of Durban Central, where she comes from, so it is possible and maybe even a good thing is they travel together just in case she needs some help. And mom and watch the diet better than a boarding school can.

So, I say, good night and I would like to promise that I won’t delay so long next time but I have tried that before, promising myself and now it is almost 2 months. Sorry about that. Pray for us old buggers. Love and Peace, Fr. Cas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nov. 15, 2016. 

 Globalization will not go away. Nor will climate change and global warming. The present uncontrollable weather, I believe, is because of all the poison that we have been putting in the atmosphere by way of Carbon Dioxide (oil and coal) and Methane (mining gold and other things) not to mention the cattle industry, but the Methane, although more poisonous to the atmosphere than CO2, is much less than the CO2. 
     If Trump really does decide to pull out of the Paris agreement, since we are such a big polluter, it will have a huge negative impact on the whole rest of the world as well as the States. If he gives in to the Oil conglomerates, and if the coal mines reopen, it will create jobs for a short time, and probablyl lost of money for the owners, but it will just doing two things: It will be hurrying up the global warming and we will come to the 2% or 3% threshold from wihich there is no return. It will also be delaying what is necessary, e.g. retraining for other jobs to take the place of those which are now already obsolete, The world has moved on. Most of the jobs lost will never come back and we have to start stragegizing now what and how to replace them with work that will be relevant.   
    A third thing also, is that the government has to come up with a plan to look after those who lost everything and are really too old or too uneducated to try something new in their lives.
     What do you think about that. I don't think the the Republicans are up to the task with their present mindset.
Give me some feedback. I worked on the assembly line at the Wixom plant putting front ends on Lincoln Contiinentals. That job, I am sure, would now be done by a robot. There is just no avoiding that. You see what I mean. Even here in South AFrica, the gold and platinum mines have a definite life cycle and it is coming to an end. All they can do is to try to re-refine the tailings that have come up with new methods to do that. I don't see the companies doing any forward planning for when the gold and platinum run out or simply become too expensive to continue (10 miles underground). 
     The Arab countries are already implementing, already for a long time now, a plan for when their oil (in the desert) runs out. They have been buyiing real estate all over the world and getting ready to make their millions there.
      This is just now coming off the top of my head now. But there must be an initiative to help those that have fallen through the cracks for no fault of their own. I really don't think that cutting the taxes of the the already rich is going to help solve the problem. The rich seem to be always getting richer and richer and richer.  Cas.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nov. 13, 2016

Just a quick update as to what has been happening since I got back from Mthatha and my retreat.
Oct. 29..I had a chance to visit my latest girlfriend, Chisanga, the one whose picture I sent you some time back. She is in the middle of the terrible twos and it is very noticeable.
Oct. 30th.. Left a list of the things needed for the church we are trying to get money to build with a friend to do a kind of cost assessment per item, e.g. so many windows as what price, so many doors at what price, how many bricks of blocks we need, and how much each, etc. The we can ask people to buy a door, or a window or a couple of bricks. I have my doubts that this will ever actually happen. The cost now has gone up to about R500,00. That is about $40,000. I don’t think in my life time. People are too poor and stressed out with ordinary financial demands on their meager salaries.
 Nov. 1… Rajes, our travel agent, gives me the schedule for my visit to the States next year to conduct a wedding of a friend in Chicago in August.
Nov. 2… A friend helps me to understand why my cell phone is eating us so much data and how to control it. Very necessary.
Nov. 3…A visit by Dr. Harry and wife Sue Jergeson, a retired orthopedic surgeon who , for 14 yrs., volunteered  his skills in the hospital at Bedford (in my parish) till the new administrator said he, and others, were not needed any more (stupid). I stayed overnight with them on my home leave in San Anselmo, CA, near the Golden Gate Bridge. We had lunch together and it was beautiful.
Nov, 4…visit Sr. Lucas Lenzen, one of our CPS sisters. She had breast cancer and it went into remission, but now has come back in her neck. Not good. I wore a collar because I came out of the usual visiting hours. I intended to intimidate anyone who might try to block me.
Nov. 5…Attended the wedding of Dr. Adam Carpenter. He was the only white kid who ever lived with Fr. Guy’s guys at Sabelani while he was studying medicine at the university medical school in Mthatha. His dad is also a doctor who donates his time 3 times a week at the clinic at the Denis Hurly Center in Durban, a free clinic for the street people. His mom is also an activist in her own right.
Nov. 7…it has been raining and raining and raining ( God answered out prayers for rain and is now laughing up his sleeve saying, you asked for it now you got it. Ha. Floods in Johannesburg) But today there was sunshine and I managed to get the stubborn weed eater running and did a lot of work out there, even though it was still pretty wet. But then, it was the last time because the rains started again.
Nov. 8… Attended a lecture at the Denis Hurley Center. Topic: Non Violence and Peace Making. Bishop Dowling has been everywhere where there is a need for peace (Sarajavo, South Sudan, DRC. You name it). Violence and more war is not the answer. Although I agreed, I asked who this mindset fit with ISIS.  He said to look for alternatives to the violence. Who is supplying the arms that makes the violence possible. He has a point there. I suggest that, in the long term we try to find who is supplying the arms and try to persuade them (lots of money in the arms trade) to stop. But, my humble opinion, in the short term, go after those ISIS people before they kill everyone in Mosul and Raqqa and elsewhere.
Nov. 9…I had the experience of a life time as a guest of the Consul here in Durban, Frances Chisholm, to watch, live, the results of the election coming in that resulted in Trump’s victory. For me, a sad day, but also a revealing day, in that it was clear that we really are a deeply racist and senophobic society. Shame, shame, shame. I will have more to say about this later on in this blog.
Nov. 11…Checked at the school of nursing about Monanyane, one of Guy’s sons, who flunked his second year of nursing and had to write a re-exam. Whether he will be allowed to get in to a so-called bridging course to be able to continue his studies for another 2 yrs. and come out the other end as a full fledged nurse able to support himself and his family. Thin hope. We may have to go to plan B and get him into the university program in Mthatha, if the will accept the two years that he did already. It takes them forever to correct the exam papers and by the time he gets his results, he should have enrolled for the next course, which will have already started. What a stupid system.
Nov. 12…Graduation Mass for those Catholic teachers and principals who have been updating their faith at a special course. Because I gave several of their inputs, I was also invited, along with the Cardinal (Ahem!) and two other fine priests who are involved in working in the schools. When I mentioned that one of the American Cardinals, Burke by name, praised Trump as one who promoted Catholic values because he promotes respect for life from conception to birth, and said that I thought that he was mad to come to the conclusion that Trump upholds Catholic values (let’s say, Christian values), because he is a blatant racist, a bigot, anti-black, anti-Muslim, calling Mexicans thieves and rapitsts, etc. etc. etc. not to mention his mindset regarding women. I was stunned when our Cardinal said that he felt that the press had unfairly demonized him and didn’t bring into the open his good points. I thought that this is the time to keep my mouth shut and make a strategic and silent retreat. Holy Moses.

Now, the best for the last. I want to take this opportunity to thank, from the bottom of my heart, my Republican friends and family members for giving all of us Americans the gift of this great man Trump, as I said, bigot, racist, anti-black, anti-hispanic, accusing Mexicans of being thieves and rapists, wanting to build a wall between us and Mexico, and wanting to punish China by putting tariffs on our imports from China, and do away with NATO, and repeal the Obamacare Act. This is not to mention at all, the mindset he has regarding women…and I won’t go into the details which you already know. How so many women could vote for such a misogynist who sees women ad objects,  don’t understand. But, to you all, my Republican friends and family, many many thanks for this great gift you just gave to the American people, and, for that matter, to the wider world.
    It was interesting to see the hypocrisy of Paul Ryan and Mitch Mconnell, smiling happily as they accompanied him away for the election place, the very same one who repudiated him  and rejected him some  days earlier, and promised not to fund any of his  events. Wow, what a turn around. It reminds me of a word we used to use when we were kids. Brown Noser. We shall see what happens now.
    I have to praise Obama for his humble and genteel meeting with Trump who had a campaign going to discredit Obama as an non-American running for president.  I could go on and on and on, but it is enough for you to realize how deeply grateful I am to you all for the tremendous gift you gave to all Americans and the rest of the world.  I will try to convince people here in South Africa to understand this because it seems that they think otherwise.

     I think that that is enough for now. Love to you all.  Cas.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25, 2016

Would you believe a whole month has gone by since I last caught you up on what is happening on this side of the world. Wow! Time really does fly. Let me try to summarize what has been going on.
    As a matter of fact, I was advised to give it a try so I drove back to Mariannhill, keeping my fingers crossed. All went well. On Tuesday, when I went to the tire place where we usually go, the place that ripped me off last time, in an apologetic mood, he gave me a spare wheel with tire for my Hyundai. Someone had had mags put on his car and this wheel was left over. My good luck. Then I went and bought a jack and some oil and another container of power steering fluid. When I was astonished that it was only R39 and something I asked about it and realized that I had been taken for a ride in Mthatha where I paid R130 for the same thing. Is there an honest person on earth???
    Then, when I went to a friend who is an IT person and a cell phone fundi, to have him check out all the things that are on this phone and to transfer the old numbers to this phone, he did that but also noticed that the leak was not power steering fluid but motor oil. The filter had worked its way loose and was a few threads from coming off (that would have been a disaster). Where it is located, it can’t be seen at all. Well, he tightened it up and all was well again. Then I went to Pinetown Locksmith, and, after a few days thinking it over, when the locks didn’t work any more, I had him fix the door locks. It cost R600 (about $55) but it had to be done as the thieves had damaged the door locks. Now, all problems had been solved, nicely. A bit expensive, but the main thing, the spare wheel was in its proper place again.
    I had helped one of the ladies who works at the Retreat house with some money to by windows for the house she is trying to build bit by bit. I deposited in the account of the store where she bought it, Abdul is the proprietor. I had to go three times to our bank and twice to his bank because, after a month, it still didn’t show up in his account. The banks, of course, blamed each other. In the meantime, in order to get her windows out, I paid cash, and delivered them to her myself (a little car but amazing how much it can hold). Then, later, when the amount showed up in Abdul’s account ( a good and proper Muslim), he returned the cash. It was very frustrating, going back and forth to the banks, but it turned out OK in the end. It really tried my patience, and put a dent in my petrol budget.
    Of course we have been watching the ghastly, ugly, acrimonious presidential events in the States. It may be a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils, but the one evil is bad and the other is really, really bad, which helps one to make a decision. I am ashamed at some of our bishops who have a one issue mind and almost force Catholics, as they see it, to vote with regard to that one issue, and don’t consider the whole picture. Someone once said, probably in one of my classes, Politics is the art of the possible. You will never get a perfect system but you take what you can get and work on the rest. People here are depressingly amused by the circus that these events have turned out to be. Shameful. What has become of our country!!!
     The guy who was given permission to put up a tent in the spot where we had received permission to hold our Sunday services, (it is municipal property intended for building a municipal hall for general use for people of ward 17. We are using what is a club house for sports during the week.) But now he has built not only a permanent building but has installed steel girders to put up a second floor. He has long done away with his tent. It is totally illegal, but he must be paying off someone, who, after being given a handout, turns his eye the other way. Corruption is rife. I took Mr. Pillay with me to see someone whom we hope can put a wrench in their works. The community will suffer by his selfishness and the greed of those counselors who took his money.
But with things as they are, I wouldn’t be surprised if we lost the case, because of some more greased palms.
     I had a mass for the Matrics (seniors—grade 12’s) at Holy Family School. I enjoy being with youngsters. However, one of the unsavory outcomes was that one of those seniors stole the cell phone of their class teacher. Happy  graduation. Bring your values into the next phase of your life. Maybe he will have a chance  to experience life behind bars one day.
     On the 22nd, I gave a workshop on Laudato Si, mi signore (Praise to you , my Lord), St. Francis’ words, who loved nature. I had to do lot and lots of preparation, as it is about Climate Change and Global warming and the bad effects in has on the poor of the world, who bear the brunt of the negative effects of these things, even though it is the developed nations who are the biggest culprits.  What are Green house Gases; what is Ecology; What is an ecosystem; what is the biosphere;  How is Methane gas produced; What are HFC’s and CFC’s and why are they bad for the environment; deforestation, water pollution, air pollution,  pesticides, herbicies, artificial fertilizers, GMO’s, acidification of the oceans, loss of biodiversity and why this is so important; throw away culture; The market forces will take care of everything; technology and its role in these things; etc. etc. etc.  Thank goodness for Google. It took most of 4 hours to make the presentation, including a Power Point program that I borrowed from a friend who made this presentation at St. Meinrad when I was on my home leave. (St. Meinrad is my alma mater in Southern Indiana). The aim was three fold: 1) help people to understand what these things are. 2) to motivate them to take this seriously. If, really, the temperature continues to rise and goes above the 2C threshold, and continues on to 3C or 4C, it will be irreversible, and it will be too late to prevent further damage to our ecosystem. 3) Action (education, re-connection with mother earth through gardening, or other ways, teaching the children to respect and work with, not against, mother nature, and getting involved in local, regional, national organizations that are trying to slow down the global warming in big and little ways.) I was exhausted. I doubt if people will still take this seriously. Here, water is at a premium in KZN, our province. Some small towns and villages have no water at all and it has to be trucked in. Where the water comes from, I haven’t a clue.
     On Saturday evening I had supper with a friend that I had known from her school days back in the late sixties. She has been working at the American Consulate for many years now. She is the one who organized an absentee ballot for me, which went off by diplomatic post the same day and was in the States the next day. She also invited me to a gathering of some of the Americans in the neighborhood as one of the hotels in town on the morning of the 9th  of Nov. here to watch the election results. It should be interesting.
    After Mass at Savannah Park on Sunday the 23rd, I drove to Mthatha (about 450 km.—285 miles) to make my annual retreat with the other members of the province.
     I had taken a new printer for Nothemba, who works at the parish house in Landsend, that has a photocopy function. It costs a villager R33 to get a photocopy of something, just a page. R16 taxi to town, R1 for photocopy, R16 taxi back to village. She can provide a service for the people and make a bit of a living for herself. I tried to help her set up he printing part, but failed. So I took it to one of Fr. Guys’s guys and they are working on it.

     I am now cheating on my retreat. I should be praying of meditating but… If  I let this go, I will go another month and I can’t do that. Pray for me. Cas.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sept.25, 2016

I am doing this with the hunt and peck method since one of my fingers on the left had had some kind of abcess and has  Bandage on it which makes it awkward to type.
     On Monday the 19th I went to the Consulate and received the absentee ballot I had requested and gave it back. It was my vote for Nov. 4th. You can guess who I voted for!! I was told that it went into the diplomatic pouch and would arrive the next day and would be posted in the States. Hooray. I was having visions of it arriving by our SA post in mid Decmber. 
    Then I went to Newberry  to get the material that Sinovuyo needed to sew the skirts for the girls at Mpheko High. He is a local guy from my old parish at Landsend (Kwa Dlomo Village) who taught himself tailoring and I want to support him. I also picked up some hosts to bring to Mthatha as I was told that they are running low on them. I had an evening Mass in Pinetown and that is always nice because it is in English and I can tell jokes that will be understood.
On Tues, 20th, I headed for Mthatha and stopped to visit a few places along the way.
On Wed. the 21st, I met Sinovuyo in town and took him with me to Landsend where I gave him his material and where I gave Nothemba (who looks after the priest’s house---there has been no priest for a long time now, only occasionally) some clothing to distribute to those who could use something.
More visits here and there and back home to AFH. S
On Thursday I concelebrated with the present chaplain to the sisters at the convent and met all the sisters at breakfast who are old friends from way back. I then drove out to see Sr. Nokwanda who teaches nursing in Libode, about 30km. from Mthatha. She is working on hers PhD, the topic having something to do with the discovery that some of the anti-retroviral drugs that are used for AIDS patients, are, it seems, causing Diabetes. A good thing with a  bad side effect. When I got back to AFH I felt weak and had a fevers and could feel that the flu was coming on, so I hopped in bed under the blankets and it was there that I had a long conversation with Fr. Winfried, a confrere who is getting to retirement age. I then went off to visit another family and enjoy a lovely curry meal. I think it helped to keep the flu at bay.
Friday was a lazy day. I went with  Frater  Faustin (who will be ordained a deacon in December to DSTV to have the contract removed from my name and to put it in the name of the house rather than an individual since we are continually changing and are given new assignments. I also noticed that my little vehicle is leaking power steering fluid so I bought some and topped up the fluid. I then put the remainder in the boot next to the spare tire. (There is as bit of room on the side of the tire.)
Saturday, Nov. 24th, I had Mass at AFH celebrating the beatification of one of our priests who died giving his life for another in Dachau. He is considered to be a martyr. I also washed the car after a visit from my friend Nomonde who is busy correcting papers. In the afternoon we had our Board of Management meeting at Sabelani Home, Fr. Guys guys. We share a meal after that and then I took Theresa Chisanga (HOD of English at WUSU) home. She is  a member of the Board.
I noticed when I came back to Abbot Francis Home (AFH) that I had trouble using the lock on the car door and had to use the other door to lock the car. I thought that maybe someone had been tampering with the lock. But, Off I went to bed.
Sunday, 25th (today) After mass, I visited an old friend, Tim O’Sullivan, who put in the electricity in Landsend in 1992, and who made the cabinets we have in our dining room. I had asked him if he had some thin oil to put in the key hole, thinking that maybe that was the problem why it was not able to lock or be unlocked.
Then I remembered that there was a small container that I use to top up the oil from time to time and I had just done that the day before but there was a little bit of oil left in the bottom of the bottle. When I went to the boot (trunk) to fetch the container, (I kept it next to the spare tire as there was just room for it there), I saw that the spare tire had been stolen along with the jack. I was discouraged, and still am. I guess that I will have to buy a new rim and tire tomorrow, first thing, as I don’t want to take a chance on the long drive to Durban without a spare. I am not happy. I wanted to leave early as I have lots of catching up to do, but….
Enough for now. Cas.