Lilac and Lime

Contrasts in colour, contrasts in life – Mary Bruce

Calm Before the Storm


The last few months of 2014 felt like the calm before a storm. Recent electric storms have been intensifying but I’ve always loved them so it hasn’t worried me as the heavens reverberate and sometimes the ground too seems to shake. Despite this the feeling of an impending implosion of some sort remained unsated as the year came to an end.

The early evening of Saturday 3 January was marked by a particularly potent storm. Storm had been in earlier and I commented to Kimberley how his lower teeth were visible and it looked like he was smiling. He loitered awhile and then returned to his Ridgeback ‘sisters’ next door. It was to be the last time we saw him. Although the storm blew over, it returned a few hours later and the dogs stayed firmly indoors. At about one the following morning they asked to go out for a customary pit stop. The night was particularly humid and all three dogs decided to remain outside. There is no logic to the events that have taken place in the interim so chronology will have to suffice.

At 4am Storm was fed poison, either on our property or from an adjoining one. By the time he was found before six o’clock his little body was already cold. He was twelve years old and hadn’t finished living by a long way.

We realised that it was a likely precursor to further criminal activity but there is not a lot one can do without knowing what the threat is. Police increased their patrols on Sunday night as a result of Storm’s death. On Tuesday morning I was up early and at about six Winston came over to speak to me. One look at his face was worrying but didn’t fully indicate what was to come. Lady had also been poisoned. We had heard her barking at a quarter to four. She managed to get out three agitated barks. That eight-year old dog fought with everything she had to stay alive and managed to do so for four hours before giving up. Kimberley went with Winston and Angela to the vet and said Lady was gagging and convulsing and died within minutes of arriving at the consulting rooms.

While Winston and I were talking I looked up and realised the chain and padlock were no longer on the gate at the top of the property. Within a few metres it was apparent my 1999 VW Golf had been stolen from our garage. It’s since emerged that I had interrupted the murdering thieves at midnight when they fell over a booby-trap I’d left in the garage. They left and came back four hours later, killed Lady, lifted a heavy gate so it made no noise, pushed my car out and then towed it away. They even removed the padlock and chain so as to leave no fingerprints. The top of the gearlock was lying in a flowerbed adjacent to the garage.

The crimes on our property saw the start of a crime spree that is still under way. Within the next few days, now weeks, more Golfs were stolen – so too Corollas and a Sentra. The focus is on older cars. Houses in numerous suburbs are being broken into, communities are pulling together like they should have been doing all along, police and security companies have upped their patrols. A Bull Mastiff about half a kilometre below us was poisoned at 1.30am on a Saturday/Sunday night a couple of weeks later. I heard him barking and reported it to the neighbourhood watch at 1.26am but it was too late to protect him. There are reports of attempts being made to come through roofs. It really feels like we are under siege. Any unfamiliar car loitering in the area is noted. We saw someone hiding an insecticide can under a bush on a neighbouring verge last Sunday. On Thursday morning a jewellery box and computer equipment were found in shrubbery on the verge immediately opposite us.

Our car was recovered the day after it was stolen. Although tomorrow will mark a month since the theft I am still waiting for the insurance company to approve the assessor’s recommendation that it be scrapped. I’ve driven two different hire cars in the interim and will take custody of the third tomorrow when this one’s term expires. The current Polo is almost new out of the box and is the best car I’ve driven to date.**

But I feel like I’m living outside myself. I see my feet walking and respond to people around me, laugh and share posts on social media. Sleep patterns are erratic as even small noises send me around the house to check the source. The first thing I do when I go out in the morning is confirm that the car is in the garage. It took a couple of years to get over that habit after our previous car was stolen six years ago. An old familiar feeling of the wrong kind.

Working one step at a time will see the insurance claim procedure through although it has taken a ridiculous amount of time compared to the last theft. More steps will find us another car. Our security at home has been tightened and further measures are being taken. At the back of my mind is the thought that if I just cope with immediate tasks “this too shall pass”. People are dealing with ‘worse’ crimes and coping with losses that are far greater than ours.

But for the first time since I was divorced seventeen years ago I am consciously fighting depression. This time the criminals have taken something they can’t afford. They have interfered with something they cannot replace. The lack of compassion that is so evident in world events has moved into our personal space. A vibrant happy little dog lies rotting in his grave because he dared to bark. “This too” is not going to pass. The rage inside me is growing stronger and I’m hoping common sense will be strong enough to prevail if they return.

** This post was written on 5 February. Today (6th) the car was deregistered at the Licensing Department, in other words, scrapped. I am now driving a Ford Figo.



  Marina wrote @

Mary, You will be fine! I understand how you feel…something inside you just breaks. Just less than a year ago, our trusted and reliable gardener, gave three men access to our property…they tied up my tender-hearted and trusting son aged 23 and made off with most every item of jewellery that was dear to me (my grandmothers included) The trauma was still to come however as the insurance brokers then proceeded to find every loophole in our contract that they possibly could…after 8 months I finally got some joy when I referred the matter to the Short-term ombudsman. I did not know until then how much stress this puts on a household and its dynamics..,….

Don’t be hard on yourself…..There is no harm in going for counselling…..just someone impartial who can put things in to perspective for you…do yoga, drink wine, meditate, go to gym…..remember we are not only colleagues, but are also so your friends, so your support structures are way bigger than you can ever imagine….we all respect you as a person and a colleague. You have always been actively involved and are always willing to help…now it is your turn to accept help from others..sometimes from unexpected quarters

We Love You Mary


  lilacandlime wrote @

Thank you, Marina. Your kind comments mean a lot to me

  Hesma van Tonder wrote @

Oh Mary, my heart bleeds for you. Pets are my everything, and even cry about little hamsters who only lives for max 18 months.

  lilacandlime wrote @

Thank you, Hesma. It’s the one trial I’ve never come to terms with

  Susan wrote @

I’m so sorry, Mary. Having followed your posts on Facebook, I know what has been happening in your life but this blog-post comes from your heart and spells it out. I don’t know what to say to make you feel better, but hope that you are able to find some comfort knowing that you have the thoughts, sympathy and prayers of many people who wish you well. It always horrifies me that some people out there have no conscience, no compassion and no respect for the lives of others – either human and animal. What kind of world do we live in when even our pets are not safe? I wish you strength and love, my friend.

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