Archive for February, 2012

My stomach churned as I looked down at my feet. They were trussed up in gigantic ski boots! I opened the door and the cold air blasted across my face. I pulled my fur jacket up against my chin and gingerly ‘penguin walked’ down the stairs. Right, let’s do this!


So there I was, all fitted out in all the right equipment complete with helmet. We debated about the headgear as I had no intention of breaking any speed records. Then the vision of me careering off the side of a slope came to mind and ‘action girl’ thought that it was probably a good idea. My stomach lurched as I gazed up the steep slopes and contemplated my fate!


 My skiing instructor was a retired, gallant gentleman and he carefully guided me through the initial steps. I flew up in the air a few times and landed with ‘bene in die lug.’ Getting up after a fall was no easy feat either, as your skis were all tangled beneath you. I was all legs and skis! At one stage I hurtled off the course and was caught by a kind hand and brought back on track. Slowly I gained confidence and began to push my heels out and weave my way down the slope. My God, she has got it! I screamed with delight! There was no holding me back now. It was amazing to feel the snow slip beneath you and I just could not get enough. I raced up and down and even walked up the slope when the ski lift experienced mechanical problems.


Eventually I started experiencing some of my own mechanical problems! The body does not quite work as it used to, although it had surprised me with its endurance and agility on this particular day. An ankle bruise and a sore neck from a spectacular flip backwards made me submit and I made my way to the clubhouse.


 As I walked back I had a wonderful sense of achievement. I know that I had only played around on the bunny slopes, but I had walked through my fear and not given in to it. I had played like a kid again and screamed and shouted with joy. I am sure it will be a different story when I wake up tomorrow and feel the stiffness in the old bones!

 ‘Môre is nog ‘n dag.’

Action girl!



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The clunk of the pool ball breaks through the stillness of my sleep. I try to work out where I am and why someone would possibly be playing pool this early in the morning! My fuzzy head tries to make sense of it all. Have I have eventually gone on that cruise around the Mediterranean? No such luck, it is our pool table in the basement that is resonating with the beating of wood on wood. Who could possibly be so inconsiderate at 2 am in the morning?


Teenagers have the knack of living in their own heads and for making sure that all their own needs are met. I have lived with 3 of them and taught hundreds over the years and have had to draw this conclusion. I find it hard to accept this and that they just don’t see the bigger picture. Blinkers are perched just over their ears so that they can just take in their immediate surroundings and what is pertinent to them. All auditory pleas for help or piles of dirty plates are not registered by this selective adolescent brain. They have the marvelous ability to take in just what is necessary. The sight of fresh delectables in the fridge, added cell phone air time or a topped up their bank account results in a quick burst of energy. But all this reverts back into sloth mode once they are reminded of the weekly chores!

Conservation of energy is paramount and all things that amount to ‘love jobs around the house’ are completed at snails pace and with a look of utter disdain on the face. The ears are plugged with earphones and the music pulsates to lessen the pain of helping out. This lack of outside sound often results in the vacuum hose becoming tangled up around a piece of furniture and the straining motor sends a whine up through the house. But it falls on deaf ears and the ‘enthusiastic helper’ just carries on oblivious to the pending doom. Once the earphones have been removed, the hearing resumes the state of being selective.


So how does this mother get some cooperation from her beloved son? I have tried various psychological approaches from round table discussions to the democratic involvement of decision making. There are days when we make headway and days that I feel I am back in the terrible two’s stage!  I do know that this too will pass and hopefully with tender loving care, the teenager chrysalis will ripen and a caring, helpful human being will emerge. I look forward to that day!

My Canadian teenager


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His left eyebrow lifted as he gazed at me over his spectacles.

“So tell me, what are your symptoms?”

I gave a concise description hoping that I could just get my script from him and get out of there! The doctor had his sleeves rolled up which showed off his bronze glow. I had heard one of the nurses inquire about his holiday and he had obviously just returned from some sunny destination down South. He did not have the usual ‘I am rested and had a good holiday’ look on his face and proceeded to inquire and refute all that I said about how I was feeling. I wondered to myself how many times he had actually experienced a bladder infection and how many times he had danced around on a toilet seat shouting, “Fish hooks and razor blades!”

I could not blame this learned doctor and any assurance that I might have given him that I was no hypochondriac, would have meant very little to him. Besides, who was this Anne Morkel anyway? I had no history with this doctor; all he could possibly know about me was what I had told him and what appeared on my health card. This was not about to be very informative either as I had not built up much of a health  record in the last 7 months other than a clean bill of health for my annual medical.


As I drove back along the streets towards home I realized I have no history yet in this new country. Nobody knows whether I am a good solid citizen or a scoundrel, a warm caring individual or a cold unfriendly soul, I can choose to dwell on that fact or do something about it.  So what do I do about it? How do I create some history in this our new country Canada? I suppose if this whole ‘history making’ is to mean something then this process should make a difference to others. Then I ask myself: How can I make a difference?

I am going to write about all these new experiences and record the metamorphosis that takes place when one is exposed to a totally new environment. The difference will be when, hopefully, my readers will be able to relate to, identify and find solace in the topics that I cover.  

 One thing I do know is, the next time I need to visit the medical centre for an ailment, I will pull out all the stops! No stoic attitude from this lady, I will turn on the taps and do the necessary attics. My family has always said that I have a natural ability to do just that. Even though it is not becoming of a lady of mature years, I am sure that I will be able to oblige. The little girl in me lurks just below the surface!

Making history under the maple trees!

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It was 4am in the morning and I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed. It is always a special time of the day as I can sip a cup of tea quietly and just contemplate. It feels like the whole world is asleep and I am the only one who is watching the dawn break.

It could not be further from the truth as the whole of Canada would be watching the sun come up today. It is Groundhog Day today and legend has it that the groundhog can predict if spring is on its way. A festival is held in Wiarton in Ontario to honour this day and this includes dances, pancake breakfasts and parades. News reporters from all the local channels cover these events and it was reported that the shadow of the groundhog was NOT seen this year so we will have an early spring. Hoorah! Not that we deserve one as we have not paid our dues. Even us newbies know that this winter has been mild and not what we were expecting.

Weather is such an integral part of our daily lives here as it defines how we dress, get to work and spend our spare time. It comes as no surprise that the weather channel is the most watched one in Canada! We have new words that have become part of our vocabulary like wet snow, dry snow, freezing rain and cookie dough snow. Each of these snow types requires different apparel anything from track shoes to water resistant snow boots. I even packed in my green Wellington boots from South Africa. No chasing over green fields with a Labrador at my side or trout fishing, these are my big guns! They take in the squelchy roads with ease. One then understands why the Eskimos have over a 100 words for snow. The word ‘kripya’ means snow that has melted and then frozen and ‘pactla’ is snow that has been packed down. I am adding these words to my repertoire of experiences as I land on my rear in one of the 100 snow conditions. This takes place when my over zealous Jack Russell gives a sudden burst and chases a squirrel up a tree. It is a humbling experience!

A family of groundhog

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