07 February 2013
This morning, after Reggie and I had done all the laundry and swept up all the fallen leaves for the compost, Reggie’s mother – who asked me to call her Aunty Karin – came over for a visit. She was a little awkward around me initially, as some people are before they’ve gotten a chance to get to know me better. But very soon, we were chatting away like we had known each other for years.
The three of us went for a long drive, to a suburb called Durbanville, in the north of Cape Town. I could tell that Reggie and Aunty Karin were very excited to go on this excursion. But they were a little secretive about the purpose of our trip, and kept winking at each other whenever I asked where we were going, and replying, “Shhh, it’s a surprise, Flat Kathy. Let’s call it a mystery excursion, alright?”
Well, I love surprises and mysteries, so I just sat back and enjoyed the drive. When we reached Durbanville, we entered the most marvellous shop called Thimbles Quilts and Knits: it had lots of small rooms, each filled to the brim with shelves of yarn and wool, and quilting materials, and patchwork fabrics in all the colours you can imagine.
Reggie beamed at me: “Do you like it?”
“Ohh, yes!” I cried joyously, trying to take it all in – “This is wonderful!”
“We’re looking for some wool, to make you a couple of plaits; the Africans like to plait hair extensions into their hair, and I thought it might make you look quite pretty,” said Reggie. “There are only a few places in Cape Town where you can buy wool. I’ve been here before with Richard’s Mom, who has made all the quilted pillows and table mats that you’ve seen at our home.”
We were approached by a sales lady, who glanced at me with a surprised look. Perhaps she hasn’t seen many visitors like me from Nova Scotia. I gave her my best smile, as Reggie politely introduced me, and told her what we were looking for.
Warming up to our quest, the sales lady showed us to a room filled to the ceiling with shelves of wool and yarn and threads of all the colours of the rainbow. My eyes immediately lit upon a ball of wall with the threads in three different colours – orange, red and green, gradually merging into each other.
I nudged Reggie, “That’s the one.”
She picked it up and held it next to my face. “Ohh, it looks perfect against your skin tone, Flat Kathy. Yes, we’ll take this one.”
Feeling rather peckish, we shared a blueberry muffin over some tea and a cup of capuccino at the nearby Mugg & Bean. Hmmm, that was nice.
“There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” remarked Reggie, as we got back into the car. “Those cupcakes we bought earlier, they’re for my friend Kimberley, who works for a travel company. We have been friends since our first year at University.”
“So you’re Flat Kathy,” said Kimberley, cautiously shaking my hand. “I hope you’re having a great time in South Africa? Are Reggie and Richard doing all the touristy things with you?”
“Oh yes,” I said, smiling broadly, “I’ve even met their friends, Dr Lizette and Dr Felix, and Little N. I had a sleep-over with them for a couple of days. Dr Felix is very nice – he’s a psychiatrist.”
“Oh, really?” she asked, with a surprised sideways look at Reggie. “That is so interesting! I was just going to suggest that you and Reggie should perhaps go and visit them, for a chat or something. Well, you have a lovely time, and I’m sure we’ll see each other again sometime.”
Sadly, she was too shy to pose for a photo with me, but we did take a photo of me giving her the cupcakes.
Our last stop before we finally reached home again, was at a huge stationery and packaging store called Merrypak. Reggie wanted to buy some slightly thicker yellow paper to give me some additional support, because she was concerned that I would not be able to survive a long trip around the world.
She particularly wanted to get some advice on how best to secure a supporting stick to my back. At the moment, the stick is poking from the front of my chin through to the back, and then through my forehead to the front again. Although it may be functional, it is far from aesthetically pleasing, and it is very uncomfortable!
I was really touched by how many people were willing to make helpful suggestions.
Home at last, Reggie spread out all the things we would need for my little makeover: the ball of thick multi-coloured wool, a yellow ribbon with tiny white dots, thick yellow paper, and little plastic-covered wire things that she called ‘twirlies’. Taking a deep breath, she commenced the operation.
First, she plaited together six strands of wool to make some thicker plaits, and three strands of wool to make some thinner plaits. Then she tied the yellow ribbon around them, and used a strand of wool to secure them to my hair.
She cautiously laid me face-down, and used some glue to stick a page of thick yellow paper to my back. Using a small flat screwdriver, she made two tiny incisions in the back paper, threading the ‘twirly’ through the hole in the front and out again to the back, where she twirled the ends together until the stick was secured. She repeated this with the hole at the top. Lastly, she put a little blob of glue near the top of the stick, to stop it sliding up and down.
“Okay, Flat Kathy,” she said, turning me face-up again, and smiling encouragingly at me. “Are you ready to see what you look like?”