Ways to go

Traditional western-style burials, with their embalming fluids and coffins, are a trend in decline. More people opt for cremations these days, for reasons ranging from spiritual and environmental to financial. But what happens to your remains after the fire is limited only by your imagination – and your budget.

If you’ve got about R125 000 lying around, you could reserve a space for your ashes on the Sunjammer, a solar-propelled craft which, at the end of 2014, will carry a ‘precious payload of cremated remains on an infinite celestial journey around the sun’. There’s limited space and you have to make your reservations in plenty of time, so if you’re interested, waste no time in contacting Celestis.

If music was your passion in life, you could choose to ‘live on from beyond the groove’ by having your ashes pressed into a record. Andvinyl.com offers a basic package of 30 discs for about R50 000. Extras include original album-cover artwork, ‘bespook music’ (written especially for you), and the organisation of a ‘FUNeral’.

If you want to keep an eye on those who come after you, have your cremains incorporated into a memorial portrait of yourself. Memories From Ashes offers this service, with prices ranging from about R2 000 to R3 000 (depending on size), excluding postage, packaging and handling.

How about shining on as a crazy diamond? LifeGem turns your ashes into a high-quality memorial gemstone. Prices range from R25 000 to R250 000 per stone, depending on size and colour.

For an especially green way to go, Eternal Reefs will incorporate your ashes into a concrete ‘reef ball’ and sink it into the sea to create a ‘memorial reef’. Prices range from R20 000 to R70 000, depending on size.

If you do opt for burial, you can still go in style. Crazy Coffins, a UK-based company, supplies caskets shaped like anything from cellphones to chillis.

For the technologically minded, there are also a range of options. Quiring Monuments offers living headstones: ‘internet-connected memorials’ that incorporate a link in the form of a digital barcode. When a smartphone is waved over it, the barcode takes the user to a website containing information about the deceased, including an obituary, family background and photos, and links to Facebook and twitter. Prices for a lifetime subscription to a personal web page range from about R700 (with the purchase of a headstone from Quiring Monuments) to about R1 500 (for attachment to an exciting memorial).

And if you never want the party to stop, you could install the CataCombo, a unique in-coffin sound system featuring speakers and an amplifier, plus a tombstone with an upgradable music server. Made by Swedish company Pause, prices start at about R300 000.


JCB Leathers slippers – update

This is an update to the post I wrote below two days ago. I did finally get hold of someone at JCB Leathers, and she told me to take the moemfies back to Swartland Pharmacy and ask for them to be replaced.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. First, the people at the pharmacy pointed out that I’d bought them about a year ago – ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘and I’ve recently washed them for the first time, because people don’t usually wash brand-new slippers. That’s why it took this long to discover that they disintegrate in the washing machine.’

After a phonecall to the person at JCB Leathers and my signature on a credit note, I was given a replacement pair of slippers. ‘But,’ the woman warned me, ‘we won’t replace them again, so don’t put them in the washing machine this time.’

I think this is ridiculous. Moemfies get pretty manky through a long Cape winter, and the only way you can get them properly clean is to machine-wash them. But at least this time I’ve been warned.

My original post
Sheepskin slippers – we call them ‘moemfies’ – have been a tradition in my family since my kids were little. While they were growing up, I bought them a new pair every winter; when their feet stopped growing, they got a new pair every second winter or so.
slippers4At one stage they were difficult to find, and only Oskava (from whose website I’ve nicked this picture, of what they should look like) stocked them. They didn’t come cheap but they were well made, fabulously comfortable and – here’s the point of this post – fully machine washable. Newly washed moemfies were a special treat – they stretched over the months while you were wearing them, but they came out of the machine clean, sweet-smelling and back to their snug fit.
Last winter I replaced my moemfies – I bought a new pair from the Swartland Pharmacy in Malmesbury. Both my kids said their slippers were still in good nick and didn’t need replacing – thank goodness, because as it turns out, I was sold a dud pair.
I chucked them in the washing machine a few days ago and this is what they looked like at the end of the wash cycle. And the rest of my washing was festooned in some sort of artificial fluff – even 2 additional rinses didn’t get rid of it.
The label states ‘Made in South Africa by JCB Leathers’, so I immediately hopped on the interwebs to find out who JCB Leathers were when they were at home. Well, they’re no-one: although they claim to have been in business since 1992, their website isn’t functional. I’ve also phoned their Pretoria landline number several times but it’s constantly engaged.

Across the generations

Bruce is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We got up to all sorts of mischief in Cape Town in the 1980s, until the birth of my children put the brakes on. (A bit.) We were even related for a short time: my ex-husband’s brother is married to Bruce’s sister.

Here’s Bruce, in 1991, at his restaurant The Pygmy Goose in De Waterkant in Cape Town, holding Isabella as a months-old babe.

Bruce and Bubs 1991

And here’s Bruce again, this past weekend, at my house in Riebeek Kasteel, holding Isabella’s baby, Jessie, just over 2 weeks old. The baby in Bruce’s arms in the pic above is the woman looking over his shoulder in the pic below!


* For another ‘across the generations’ story, also involving Isabella and the 1980s, go here.