My Ouma as I picture her was always sitting. She had long grey hair plaited and wrapped round her head like a halo. Her hands and feet were small. I remember Grandpa bending down to put her very small shoes on. Her ankles not at all visible because of her extreme “weightiness”. This weight she carried meant that the chairs she sat on had to be strengthened so they would not collapse.
The chair she used the most was on the back verandah. It was the one she worked from. There she weighed and stamped the date on eggs. Some were warm and still with feathers and dung on, these she wiped clean with a little cloth. This was her morning job and you could see a smile play on her lips as she held an extra large egg.
Then later on if there was a glut of fruit she would sit right there and cook jam on a little stove. She boiled the fruit and sugar while scooping white foam off the top. She then dipped in a spoon and tested to see if it was set and as soon as she was satisfied she filled the bottles. My most favourite jam Ouma made was from fruit picked from a large mulberry tree on the way to the dairy. I remember climbing and eating from that tree but I never remember taking any fruit back to the house. I think someone else did that for her. Ouma used to give grandpa a bottle of her special jam to put in the box of his vegetables for us to take home. A delicious gift.
A basket of wool near her chair always had a crocheted blanket on the needle and that filled her time between two and four. Four o’clock was the time all the cats and dogs came to the verandah for their daily meal and they would start coming at three. She supervised the sharing of the cooked meat, vegetables and pup (maze meal). Both dogs and cats behaved very well but she did use her walking stick with a loud whack on the table to direct them.
Ouma was the grand lady of the verandah. There she sits in my memory smelling of soap, talc powder and heat.