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Archive for January, 2012

As I went speeding down through the back streets of Oakville today listening to the directions of my satellite navigation, I realized once again how fortunate I am to live with a whole house full of men. Oh yes, they drive me crazy with all their idiocentricities and the demands they make, but then they often chant back at me: “Mom, you are no shrinking violet either.”

 

The wet snow is slushy and I reach for the ‘snow button’ which is another added extra that was a requisition for mom’s car. This prevents skidding in slippery conditions and the knowledgeable men decided that this was a definite for the vehicle that I would be driving.  Anyone would think that I scream around town at break neck speed! Maybe they have an inkling of an idea, as my husband takes great delight in relating a few stories from my youth. I would apparently ‘dice’ him down the main road in Cape Town in my Austin mini. He would watch me out of the corner of his eye from his powerful Alfa Giulietta, knowing full well that he could so easily overtake me. But he always let me shoot in front of him. This race would often include a tight corner with my vehicle on 2 wheels and some screeching of brakes. It was such fun! These are memories that I have chosen not to store but he seems to remember the intricate details!

 Need I say that I am older and wiser and keen to stay on the right side of the law here in Canada. It has taken me considerable effort to acquire my driver’s license and I definitely intend keeping that piece of paper, as tearing around the streets on my bicycle in the snow is not my idea of fun.

 

 I pull the car back into the garage and notice the garbage bins that have been left on the curb. They are greasy and wet. I reluctantly drag them into their designated position outside the mudroom. The wise old saying comes to mind….what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.

 

It's a man's life!

Curb duty

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It had been a rough day, the icy wind had been blowing, the ironing was piled up in the laundry and the job hunting escapade had not been fruitful. How do I comfort myself in times like this? I reach for the FOOD….. But not just any food, it has to be food that conjures up the comfort of the familiar.

 

My familiar foods have passed the test of time and have been savoured without boredom coming into play. Now we all know that the concept of time is relative to one’s age. So if I had the urge to comfort myself with a familiar food that had passed the relevant criteria, it would have to hail from South Africa! The comfort of Ouma rusks with a cup of hot tea after a long day of teaching or a packet of salty chips as a meal in a bag when time is of the essence. My mouth just watered at the mere thought of these simple comfort foods.

 

That was it, I had to satisfy my stomach and calm my jaded being. I reversed out of the garage and chased down the road to my wonderful find of 2 weeks prior…the South African shop. There was no sighing as I pushed this trolley and the memories of trying to do this ‘job’ as fast as I could were in the distant folds of my cortex. I pushed my tiny trolley around the isles and drank in all things familiar…..boerewors,  rusks, Oros juice and Romany Creams to name a few.  The cheerful shopkeeper rang up my goods and as I handed over my dollars I thought about how important it is to keep things constant when one is dealing with change. If it means a 10 kilometer drive for a bottle of mayonnaise and a packet of biltong, so be it. We all cope in different ways and for us as a family, our South African foods and treats put a spring in our step when the going gets tough.

 

Did you ever think these would be comfort foods?

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The ribbon held tight over the soft tissue paper and I recognized the writing on the handmade card. There had been so many gifts created and lovingly sewn over the years but this one felt different. It had traveled the high seas all the way over in time for Christmas, our first away from South Africa. The soft fragrance from the embroidered lavender hearts was the first to greet me and I was reminded of these floral splendours that I had planted outside my mom’s bedroom window. The hot summer breezes would often soothe us with their aromatic perfume.

Then I wrapped the colourful hand knitted scarf around me that I would wear as I walked the pavements in my efforts to exercise Josh….it felt soft and warm. With the temperatures plummeting we had recently discovered that a scarf had now become a necessity and not a fashion extra. The aromatic spices and red cherries of the Christmas cake were the next to be savoured with a cup of hot tea. I felt it warm me as I gazed onto the bare trees that bent with the wind at the bottom of the garden.

 

As I folded up the last of the Christmas wrappings, I felt the warmth and devotion of my mother all those miles away. In her own way she has shown me what it is like to care for and to give time unselfishly to your family. She lovingly creates her homemade presents and this is indicative of the love that she has for all of us. I am constantly reminded of the foundations that were laid down for me as a child, not realizing how many of those skills would need to be drawn upon with this move abroad. I am grateful for the wonderful mother that I have and hope that I will be able to keep up her legacy as I care for the men in my family all these miles away here in Canada. I love you, Mom.

 

 

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How do you feel about moving to Canada? These were the words that greeted me as I raced through the door after a full day of teaching. This question came as a shock as my husband had not been out there looking for job opportunities out of South Africa. We had been living in Gauteng with our family and moving to another country had been the last thing on ours minds.

Little did I know then, that MOVING was going to be all consuming for the next 6 months. I ate, slept and drank moving! The first thing on the agenda was to sell our beautiful home ‘Vista della Collina’ that nestled up against the Lonehill nature reserve. I knew that it would be heart-wrenching, as we had come to recognize and grow attached to the local flora and fauna that had set up home there. The dassies would herald in each morning with their grunts and moans as they fought for the choicest grazing along the fence and the resident eagle owl would always give his final hoot as he settled down to sleep after a long night of catching rodents. He used our chimney as a vantage point and was vigilant at keeping away these any unwanted furry rodents from our garden.

Our vista...the Lonehill Koppie

Our vista…the Lonehill Koppie

Then there was all the sorting, throwing out and administration that had to be done. I never realized how time consuming it would be to close off household, telephone or bank accounts. My life was filled with the occupation of ‘filling in forms.’ I approached the whole process like a robot and slowly worked my way through the paper trail. There were numerous ‘to do’ lists that stared at me from the fridge and I felt like I was not making any headway. All this drained my energy and we had not even begun to pack yet!

Fortunately my sons and good friends kept me focused as my husband had already moved to Toronto to take up his new position. There were many phone calls back and forth with all the logistics that had to be organized. We filled one and a half containers with all our worldly goods. Our precious furry child, Josh the Jack Russell, was ushered into a wooden crate too so that he could make his long journey over to his new home. I felt like everything had to fit into a box and was ready to jump into one myself!

The last part and the hardest by far were the goodbyes that had to be said. It was a sad process that took us to different parts of the country to say our farewells. We knew what we were leaving behind and our hearts were heavy. This was not only about being far away from our dear family and friends but we were also leaving behind our African lifestyle. Fortunately for us there was some respite, as we were not running away from anything. We saw the move as a great new experience for all of us as a family.

 These experiences became so overwhelming at times that I was encouraged by my son to write a blog. He wisely suggested that the writing might be therapeutic and it would help me to keep in touch with loved ones back in South Africa. It was not to become a travelogue but was more to be about ‘change’ and how one perceives a country when you know that you are living there and not just passing through as a tourist. My blog has been a wonderful tool and I still marvel at the way in which technology makes the world a really small place.

 

 

On the deck at my new home.

 

 

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