Life is older than the trees…..

My canvas bush hat is pulled right down over my eyes. I peer up at the grey skies and the drizzle wets my face. The hot water swirls up against me and the warmth soothes. This is hot tubbing Vancouver style. Sometimes we resort to the protection of a golf umbrella. We jump into said hot tub and prop up this useful apparatus. There is some skill attached to getting the angle just right. This alleviates the possibility of icy rain drops trickling down one’s back. Then all that is left to do, is to indulge in our daily medicinal ritual. There has to be a way of beating this weather at its game!

Here's to acclimatisation....

Here’s to acclimatisation….

The wild storm had raged on through the night. We lay and listened to the pine cones that crashed and hit the skylights.  Our forest succumbed and branches flew off and tumbled down the embankment. The eco-friendly ‘green roof’ was thick with its carpet of leaves.


“Please tell me, honestly……does it rain like this all the time?”

My new friend looked at me long and hard. She drew in a deep breath and paused. I think she was trying to decide whether she should give me the information in the form of a ‘white lie’ or whether I could handle the truth. It was to be the latter……

“It rains pretty much all the time….. till March.”

My heart sunk. Minus temperatures are one thing but soggy rainy days are another!

Almost instantaneously I felt a surge of energy. Survival mode kicked in and ideas rushed into my head. How would I manage these endless soggy rainy days? But a plan began to formulate…..

I am always partial to a spot of clothes shopping. I had recently eyed a rather fetching shiny navy spotted raincoat. I could envisage it with the rain drops sliding off its gleaming surface. I had pushed this rather frivolous idea into the far reaches of my brain. After all the recently acquired sensible khaki one would have to suffice. But that was 3 weeks ago, before the harsh reality of the Vancouver winters had set in.

So it is off to the shops for me. I do hope that the little spotted number is still around. In fact I think my green fishing wellies could do with an update!

Fishing wellies ready for an update....

Fishing wellies ready for an update….

Our creek is filling up after the rains.

Our creek is filling up after the rains.




♫ Rise♫ by Katy Perry

I must stay conscious
Through the madness and chaos…….


“You do know that the rain never stops in Vancouver!”

It was move- in day and true to form, it bucketed down. Soggy people and boxes filled the front doorway. The movers lurched down our four flights of stairs and the piles of boxes steadily climbed towards the skylights.

“Where would you like this?”

I looked up from my pile of paper in the kitchen.

“I really don’t know! Find a space……anywhere.” I wanted to weep.

Boxes,boxes everywhere and no inch to spare....

Boxes,boxes everywhere and no inch to spare….

So I call on my angels….

I lay and listened to the loud squawk of the Steller’s jay and the deep blast of the cruise ship’s horn that resonated from the harbour. My brain was still trying to process ‘all that is new’ from my unfamiliar environment. These sounds sooth the jaded unpacker’s weary muscles. I decide to lie just another 10 minutes. I can see down to the river from my uncurtained bedroom window. I jump up and open the door onto the balcony…..just a fraction. Enough to keep the cool morning air out and to let in the sounds of the bubbling stream. It is still too early for our grey heron who has regular fishing trips along our banks. He must be having a lie in too! I have begun to recognise the clicking hoop of his call and the enthusiasm of his flapping wings through the giant cedar trees.

Our resident Stella's jay...the national bird of BC.

Our resident Stella’s jay…the national bird of BC.

The ceremonial placing of my African pot that has traveled the high seas....

The ceremonial placing of my African pot that has traveled the high seas….

I won’t just conform
No matter how you shake my core
My days disappear as I fill them with trying to create some order out of this chaos. I am making headway with the unpacking of boxes and am slowly becoming an expert at discarding unwanted clutter. Yes, I am still at it! My heart has hardened and am able to toss that favourite scarf or special ornament. This is round two of my clear out session! Hopefully the thrift shop will find a home for all these once ‘special things’ that have no place in our downsized abode. Fortunately we still have a Black Hole which runs under the house. It is slowly filling up with the camping gear, Christmas decorations and seasonal items like the skis. I hesitate to place anything there. It is dark and awful and I hate going down there! It feels like any piece of furniture or box that gets put down in the hole, is being committed to a stint in solitary confinement.

Josh on his morning fishing expedition....

Josh on his morning fishing expedition at our river.

Victory is in my veins…..

Nature reminds me of the rhythms that surrounds me. I feed off the familiarity in the sounds of the birds and the consistency of the flow of the river. Some things don’t change.

The view across the bay from the north shore quay...with some tech assistance.

The view across the bay from the north shore quay…with some tech assistance!


It is close to midnight and something evil is lurking in the dark…..

It was dark in there with a narrow shaft of light filtering through the small window near the roof. There was something sinister about this area. It was dank and had nothing going for it. My house renovation had me thinking about how to maximise space and to attract light into our home in the forest. I had visions of creating a happy space down there. This would make the tedious job of laundry day a whole lot more pleasant. It was the one area that I could afford to make as ‘girlie’ as possible, as I did not envisage the Morkel men frequenting it on a regular basis!

There are holes everywhere.....

There are holes everywhere…..

Suddenly a shrill scream rang through the house. What sounded like wooden shelving crashed onto the floor.There was shouting and then silence.

“Shine the torch this way…..”

The skull was perched up behind the broken dry wall. It caught the light and gleamed in the darkness.

“What do we have here?” said the foreman as he climbed the stairs into room. He had come to investigate the cause of the commotion.

You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes…..

Another light source was found and the inspection continued.  The skull was examined from all angles. The question was…..Where was the rest of the body? A fleeting glance was cast around the room and then everyone made for the door. It was unanimously decided that digging up corpses was not part of the job description.

The police arrived with their forensic team and Horace the Horrible was taken off to the lab for further tests.

You close your eyes and hope this was just imagination…..

We have been in our new house in North Vancouver for a few weeks now and I often wondered why none of our neighbours had called around to welcome us to the area. I reasoned that they were probably all busy or tied up with vacation visitors. At one stage I had thought it was the Quebec number plates on our hired car. But I can only imagine what they might now be thinking after Horace the Horrible made his appearance. What with a forensic team and the police on our doorstep, they must think their new neighbours are part of the Addams family.

I suppose that will give them something to think about…….

By the way, Horace the Horrible was an extremely good replica of the real thing.

The local fauna came to greet us....a Grey Heron perched on our deck.

The local fauna came to greet us….a Grey Heron perched on our deck.

A quiet moment at the bottom of the garden.....

A quiet moment at the bottom of the garden…..


This rendition is by Heart at the Kennedy Centre with the original group in the audience. It was performed for the first time in 1971.

There is a lady who is sure all that glitters is gold

And she is buying a stairway to heaven…….

My legs ache as I trundle up, what feels like the 100th time, the four levels of our staircase to the road. The garden debris duly deposited, I make my way down again for the next load. The overgrown garden is getting a facelift. I tug away at strings of rampant creeper and slowly the magnificence of this garden is being revealed. There are all sorts of treasure troves beneath this blanket of green…..two earthenware pots, old garden tools and discarded lights. As I unearth each object there is an unraveling of the story behind this house.

Two earthenware pots emerge from the undergrowth....

Two earthenware pots emerge from the undergrowth….

There is a feeling I get when I look to the west…..

This wild child was designed and built in the 70’s and is a real mix of eclectic west coast charm. Plenty of light pours in from the large windows and skylights. Besides her cheerful disposition, this old rocker was due for her Botox rejuvenation.  It seems that she has had 2 other owners besides us. Each adding their own taste in style with ‘creative flair.’ As a result some cohesion and updating was necessary. I can assure you…..not all of it cosmetic either! Most of the updating centres on the damp issue. The house is built on rock and where you have rock, you have water. The scourge of any home owner up near the Grouse Mountain.

The original plans

The original plans of house in the forest…..

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forests will echo with laughter…….

I hear you saying……why no house inspection? The Vancouver house market is so vicious that if you request a house inspection, you lose the house. We had already looked at so many mouldy oldies and this one certainly captivated us with her forest and her stream. It was a choice we made with our eyes wide open. We had to just jump in and swim! And swim we did, with the reality of what lay ahead of us. In record time renovators were organised. Matt, you are a gem! You have taken charge with such professionalism. Each week brings progress and with that my sleep pattern improves. So far floors have been ripped up and it has revealed this lady’s checkered past. We deal with each of these transgressions in turn. A gas line will be brought down from the road for heating and cooking. Areas are being damp proofed, gutters replaced and electrics updated. But always the one to prepare for the unforeseen. I have bought myself a really fancy new bathing costume…..just in case!

'n Ruskansie ......

‘n Ruskansie ……

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it makes me wonder……..

Our lease on the apartment expires this weekend, the fate of our cars unknown, we have an unfinished house and our dear hound sits in the kennels! We are joining the ranks of the homeless in Vancouver! On the bright side, we have a 70’s rocker who is dusting off her dancing shoes. She is about to emerge from her chrysalis and will be rejoicing in her new found splendour!

Her second childhood has begun……

There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold……


I almost can cannot handle it…….

It had been months of preparation and finally the truck had been packed up with all our worldly possessions. You could not squeeze another toothbrush into the back of the neatly tessellated boxes. We had managed to downsize somewhat and I felt relieved that the loot had reduced to a more manageable amount. I waved at the already familiar truck driver as he rounded the corner. He had a good 40 hours of driving ahead of him across Canada. Did I ever realise how big this place was before we got here?

Another box to add to the pile....

Another box to add to the pile….


I have been waiting for this moment……..

The relief was tangible and I felt the stress just tumble off my shoulders. Now all that was left was to organise Josh’s travels and the 2 cars. The vehicles were fetched that evening by 2 flatbed trucks. The drivers walked around the 2 clean immaculate passengers. Even ‘they’ had been prepared for their trip to the west coast! The drivers strutted around and rubbed at the dust marks on the body work. But I knew these 2 beauties were ready and scratchless and could be winched into place. From there they would be driven into a carrier and securely tied down. Our pool table was going to be slide in alongside the cars. Another thing to tick off the ‘to do’ list!

My Highlander graciously takes up her position....

My Highlander graciously takes up her position….

It is good to be alive round about now…..

At 5am the next morning Josh was collected. He gingerly jumped into his crate and settled down on his familiar soft blanket. He looked across at me knowingly. I assured him ‘that the trip was shorter this time round.’ The last of my packing was done. What a relief! The next few days would be spent with family and friends. It was bitter sweet to say goodbye. I suppose the reality of what you have meant to people and what they have meant to you only really hits home when you leave. I was very honoured and touched by the outpouring of emotion. I am so grateful to them for being part of my life over these last 5 years. We hope that Vancouver will be on their favourite list of vacation spots in the near future.

I think I have finally found my Hallelujah….

The call came in at the airport that the truck in which are cars were traveling had met with an accident. No one was hurt fortunately….. except the cars! In true Canadian fashion a moose had walked out across the road and the truck had swerved to avoid it. What are the chances? Oh well, they are after all, just vehicles. I will be most grateful if the second truck gets to us safely. Hopefully no moose migration is imminent over the next few days.

The culprit.....

The culprit…..

Somehow I fancy a little red low- slung number. On second thoughts maybe an orange one……we are after all empty nesters with no ‘real’ responsibilities!

I could get used to this……

My beloved garden pots have certainly seen a bit of the world....

My beloved garden pots have certainly seen a bit of the world….


I’m only one call away……

It is hard to believe that 5 years have passed since we landed here in Canada. There was so much to absorb and learn over that time. Many of you have followed me through my blog with these trials and tribulations. You have encouraged and sometimes commiserated with me and I have so appreciated your impute. No longer a stranger here in Canada, I have the feeling of permanence and belonging to this vast country. But ‘life’ decided to toss me another surprise, just in case I decided I might go down the curved path of complacency…..a move across Canada to Vancouver!

“Oh no! How do I put my head around this one?”

We say goodbye to Oakville and all our favourite haunts.

We say goodbye to Oakville and all our favourite haunts.

Change is never easy but change in those Golden Years is even harder. But our South African pioneering spirit stands us in good stead and before too long I was ready ‘to pack and follow.’ As I slowly sift through the contents of the house in my effort to downsize, I reflect on our time here in Oakville. A lump surfaces in my throat when I think of the family I leave behind. Hopefully the attractions of Vancouver and us, of course, will bring them over for frequent visits. We have family nearby across the border in the US which is an added bonus. So Morkel gatherings will be easier to orchestrate once the Toronto family have hit town.

Our forest in our new home .....

Our forest in our new home …..

Call me if you need a friend……

Friends are going to be hard to leave. These ladies have taught me so much with their generous spirits. I am richer for having them in my life and am grateful for their kindness. They have given me a rudimentary appreciation of Art, taught me various Pilates positions which have put a spring in my step, shown me how to wield a paddle so that a canoe moves, familiarised me with the property market in Canada, instructed me in the art of interior decorating so that I know how to group and use colour or have just been my companion on long walks or a coffee date. I am going to miss you all so much.

No matter where you go
You know you’re not alone……

I leave here with a full heart.  We do hope that you will visit us in the beautiful city of Vancouver.

The view from the north shore across to Vancouver.

The view from the north shore across to Vancouver.


I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away.

We built our own house, own house
With our hands over our hearts.

Decisions are never easy to make especially when you are prone to deliberation. Buying a house is one of those big ones. It must be right up there on the scale of decision making challenges. It is not only the financial outlay that makes this a tough one, it affects the way  you choose to live and it reflects your personality. Strangely enough, it one decision that we make easily within the budgetary constraints. I either like a house or not. Distance dictated that the Vancouver house was going to be an exercise in online shopping as I was still located in Toronto.

My better half had diligently found over 300 ‘suitable’ houses in the North Vancouver area. He visited many of them and even put in an offer on one. But we lost it due to an over zealous bidder. We were so disappointed! Then one day while I was searching on line, I happened to stumble across a house nestled in its very own mini forest.  The added feature was that it had its very own creek too. I just knew that this was the one!

Our forest along with a treehouse...

Our forest along with a tree house…

The Vancouver market is crazy and houses sell in a matter of days with multiple offers. Therefore a decision had to be made promptly. I poured over photographs and zoomed over the roof of the house courtesy of drone produced aerial footage. This magical little instrument revealed the beauty of the trees that give this property its charm and privacy. Any urban sounds are drowned out by the fast flowing Mission Creek. The decision was made…….it was the easiest online purchase I had ever made.

But in case you think this tale has the makings of a bedtime story, there are challenges to be had. The big one is access to the property. The house is positioned well below the level of the road and the only access is a rather steep and lengthy staircase.

Once the euphoric online acquisition had been made, the inevitable buyer’s remorse set in. How were we going to manoeuvre all our worldly goods down that steep staircase and into the house? I could see myself somersaulting down the staircase with a large sofa hurtling behind me!
Sleepless nights were the order of my day and afterwards I gave a couple of lofty solutions to our problem ….one being to construct a wooden bridge from the garage across to the house. I had idyllic visions of me trotting across with my shopping packets swaying next to my sides. My tree walk would both be a practical solution as well as food for my soul. This did not go down well….

So the engineers and creative brains in our household are working on it. I am keeping my somewhat lofty solutions to myself. There are many ideas being banded about and much discussion has ensued. I trust that they are bound to come up with a  practical plan.

I think I will turn my attention to dreaming about how I am going to make this feel like our home

Wake up to the sun
Clouds always come undone
You give the light I need
Like water to a seed

The twins check on our shower.....

The twins check on our shower…..