Archive for March, 2012

Toronto in the distance



The ‘silver city skies’ glisten as I gaze across at the city of Toronto in the morning light. The towering buildings quiver in the sun as they stretch upwards. The pulse of the city is tangible even at this distance and reverberates across the calm waters. It beckons me and ‘is asking for the taking’ as I conjure up another visit of exploration. Maybe this time it will be the antique shops or another graceful old heritage home. An aeroplane takes off from the Island and leaves its plume across the sky. I cast my eyes back along the shore and watch the water lap at my feet as if to transfer this energy straight from the source.

It is hard to imagine that this lake has a shoreline of over 1000 kilometres.  It is like a huge stretch of sea! Today it even smells like one and I gather up the small mussel shells in the sand of this manmade beach. Rounded pebbles that have been smoothed away over time knock up against the rocks. I pick one up and skim it across the mirrored lake; it ripples and sinks down….. far down. In some places it may be as deep as 244 metres.  Josh peers over the edge for the proverbial fish. He has taken a shine to the sport as he has no African Hyrax to taunt anymore. He gazes into the mirrored water and leaps at his innocent victims. His lack of success keeps his interest fired and continues to chase up and down peering into the depths from all angles. This determination will surely pay dividends and allow him to land one soon!

The stillness is suddenly interrupted by the sound of progress. Another condominium is going up nearby and a bulldozer is gnarling away at the earth. As it piles the broken ground into a waiting truck, a new basement is being formed. This will park more cars, house more people and create the opportunity for more eyes to enjoy this vista of the city.
I know that I have to ‘run with the new.’

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Union Station, Toronto.

It was after midnight and we had had a night in the city with friends.
There had been much laughter and plenty of red wine consumed. We screamed around the corner and up 3 flights of stairs to the awaiting train to Oakville. My legs felt like lead as I lifted my high heeled boots up the steep steps. All the indulgence and folly played havoc with my steadfast trot.
“I would like to meet the MAN who designed this station! No woman in her right mind would have conjured up this 3 tiered climb to be completed at a furious pace.”
I was later to learn that it was in fact designed by a group of male architects from Montreal and Toronto. I knew it!
When the Prince of Wales had opened Union Station in 1927, he had apparently said: You build your stations like we build our cathedrals.
I suppose that was meant to be a compliment, except that cathedrals and stations have very different purposes. One is visited with reverence and a sense of stillness in us. The other is usually with our hearts pounding in our chests, while our eyes flash over the train schedule searching for the correct platform. This is only displayed minutes before the train departs. Once up, all passengers surge forward and  the aortas immediately pump into action.
The haunting hoot signaled the departure of the Go Train and we sit back and sigh. A call of nature demands that I find the restroom. I stumble up and spot it behind a staircase on the upper level. I maneuvered myself into the small space and contemplated the toilet seat. It did not appear to have seen any disinfectant for quite some time so I decided to perch over it. The train swayed back and forth and I concentrated on the correct position to do the deed. My wobbly legs, that had been weakened by my night of folly and the recent clamber, did little to stabilize me. Eventually the mission was completed and I could sit back and close my eyes for the rest of the trip home.
The following week a friend and I decided to have a day in the big city to view a garden show. Spring was in the air and we were both making plans for our new gardens that we had in our care. We hurriedly made it down to the station but there was no parking. We decided that each should be assigned a duty……you park the car and I will buy the tickets. I fumbled for my purse; we had 5 minutes till the next train. Tickets were bought and I anxiously awaited the arrival of my companion. I scanned the faces but recognized no one. The train rolled into the station and still no friend. The 5 minute wait felt like 30 and the train trundled off. What do I do now? The next train is a whole hour from now! But it was about to get worse.  My quick thinking and somewhat harassed friend had actually jumped on the last train. I was left clutching the tickets! She thought that I had also hopped on board.
An hour wait ensued before I could embark on the journey once more and meet up with her further down along the line. It was worth it, as we both got to enjoy a read of the morning papers in the blazing March sun while we waited for our next ride. We did get to drink in the splendours of the spring flowers at the show too!

Spring is in the air!

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It is March break and the cupboards are being raided by teenage boys in my house. In the mornings I find the empty bowls of ice cream and tell tale wrappers of the ‘good chocolates’. Nothing is sacred in the path of this mob, but I do so love the fact that they think it is cool to hang out at Maison de Morkel. They seem to have endless energy, probably the high carbohydrate diet of expensive chocolates allows them to stay up till the wee hours of the night. This results in me tip toeing around the place till lunch time so that they can get there 10 hours in. There are times however that I resort to ‘The Mother’s March’. This is when the scorpio in me rears it’s head. I rush around and bang doors, put on the dishwasher and the washing machine and for a bit of added crescendo…the tumble dryer!

 This whole exercise is marvelous for any deep seated tension that might be lurking in this stay at home and recently retired mother. It also has a profound effect on young men and they seem to respond by bouncing out of bed and stumbling down the stairs. The kitchen is obviously their first pit stop and they open the fridge as if at a bookshelf. They stare glibly into the shelves and scan the contents for delectable treats. These have been hidden by a much practiced mother under the healthier options. They continue to stare and the duration is usually influenced by whether their brains have kicked in yet. Once the IQ begins to function, the problem solving begins….where has mom hidden ‘the quick breakfast food’ this time? For those of you who are not familiar with the term ’quick breakfast food’…… this is the food that requires no cooking or preparing and can just be put into a mouth and swallowed. I have learnt that it is incredibly difficult for a teenager to try to wake up and prepare a sandwich or bowl of cereal at the same time. The brain just cannot do it!

There are those wonderful mornings when I wake up and smell the delicious aroma of flapjacks being tossed in the kitchen. Can you believe they are made from scratch?

 A greater force moves them to get up…. it is not the banging of household appliances….. it is far greater than that. Maybe it is a sudden surge of hunger pangs. Whatever it is, I am so grateful as the ‘Mother March’ does not have to  be executed and I can get to enjoy breakfast in bed!  

Flapjacks with maple syrup.....mmmmmm!

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I am grateful today……..

My constant companion, Josh.


1.For a warm coat, I needed it in my walk around the city of Toronto   today with temperatures and the chill factor of minus 10.

2. For the quick, warm and comfortable ride on the go-train into the city. No sitting in the traffic for me!

3. For the sustenance of a plate of steaming hot butternut soup made from scratch in a lovely restaurant in The Distillery District.

4. For being able to keep walking for so long today in the city without feeling the pain of the sciatica in my leg. Old age is creeping in!

5. For the positive response that Bryan has received with his job interviews in Toronto.

6. For Philip’s energy and drive with his demanding job here.

7. For having the privilege of being able to be a ‘stay at home mom’ for the first time in my life. I now have time to play!

8. For being able to watch David grow into his own person. It is not easy to have 2 brothers precede you.

9. For David making the senior rugby squad, he has worked so hard to be considered for this. Yes, they do play rugby here!

10. For my friends and family, who even with their busy lives, still keep in touch with me on a regular basis. Contact with home makes my heart sing!

11. For the job offer made to me by a school in SA. This made me realize that I am still remembered and considered for my skill as a teacher even though I am no longer there.

12. For the message from a past pupil on Facebook. It is special to know that the connections you made with young people are still relevant.

13. For my furry child, Josh, he is such an enthusiastic companion and has such a zest for life.

14. For my improving vision that allows me to take in the beauty of my surroundings on my daily walks.

15. For the first buds that have appeared on the shrubs in my garden. Spring is on its way!

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Canadian flags flutter in the wind as we make our way north on highway 401. The straight fur trees appear match like against the white vast snow fields and Fisher Price barns peep through the misty distance.  A horse digs deep with his nose for a fruitless search of green sustenance. The frozen grass that had survived the harshness of winter pokes through the soft white crust of snow. Ploughed lines of soil are accentuated with a white icy trim. The dark network of deciduous branches stands stark against the grey sky. It is hard to imagine that soon they would be bursting with green buds. These white ‘plains of Canada’ shimmer for miles and the trees quiver as clouds of mist veil the leaves.


There is both frailness and strength to winter as all living creatures and plants struggle to survive the elements. The fields are still as the squirrels take cover in burrows and play the waiting game. They patiently sit out the storms, huddled up in their leaf- lined homes. They have learnt this lesson and know that the reward for their patience is great. They await the first tip of green that will announce the arrival of spring. Oh what a joyous occasion that will be! All that moves will run about and enjoy the warmth of the sun!


Today tiny white buds in our garden announced that spring is imminent. The days have begun to stretch and our waiting game is almost over too!  We have been let off lightly this time with a mild Canadian winter. It is time to run outside and enjoy the warmth on our backs.




Our first Canadian winter.

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