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Archive for December, 2012

Pastries and breads to delight!

Pastries and breads to delight!

A little bit of what you fancy!

A little bit of what you fancy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-alLxD6Zqwg

 

“The usual, ma’am?” 

“Yes please, a latté with one shot and a buttery croissant. Don’t forget the cheddar cheese on the side.” This is my favourite! I think you could wake me up in the middle of the night and I would devour it with the same enthusiasm. The flakey pastry, the aroma of the freshly brewed coffee combined with the cheese. This is manna from heaven!

I have discovered that Canadians are territorial when it comes to where they purchase their coffee. They all seem to make their usual stop on the way to work or to drop off the kids. Some establishments are even ‘drive thru’ which allow them to make a quick get away. But the less hurried one’s walk out with their coffee poised in the ‘Canadian Salute’ position. A smile breaks out once the first sip of caffeine hits their taste buds.

I, on the other hand, do not go in for the usual chain like establishments. Something quaint, intimate and personal is more my style. In this place I have become a regular too. Oh for someone here to know that I have ‘a usual’! There is a whole lot of comfort in that with so many unknowns. I gaze around and notice the magazines and daily newspaper lie ready for my perusal. The hat rack ready to receive my coat and the best……the croissants are fresh and ready to be eaten! While I order my coffee I notice a few of the other regulars. There is an elderly lady who slowly maneuvered herself around to her favourite corner. Her red velvet hat is perched at a cheeky angle. She eats alone but takes in her surroundings and listens to the chatter. She always orders an English breakfast with all the trimmings and elegantly makes her way through the whole lot. She smiles at those closest to her but seldom speaks.There is also  a quick visit by a hurried mother who charges in to grab a pastry for a fractious child and then darts out again. But most of us who visit this establishment have the gift of time to spare.

The warm coffee thaws my cold limbs and I feel the croissant that touches just the ‘right spot.’ This time I have Josh with me so I am perched outside in the street on a collapsible chair. If I am lucky a sunbeam might just touch the tips of my feet. It is less relaxing as I have to restrain Josh from any canine encounters. But he does initiate some conversation from passers by who are amused by his fervor. I  still receive the friendly greeting and get ‘my usual’ served up to me. The atmosphere stretches out onto the pavement. I savour it amongst my coffee spills from an overly zealous dog.

 

 

 

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The Bum Scraper

The Bum Scraper

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orv_F2HV4gk

 

There was a loud screech as I reversed out the driveway! The tyres squealed as I made my way around the corner. This was fun! I was riding my son’s ‘boy racer’ as he had borrowed my car. It was exhilarating to feel the power under the hood.  I felt like I was chasing along NoordhoekBeach on the back of a wild stallion! Yippee! I had to revive old skills of driving such similar vehicles. It was also a ‘stick car’ which means that it had a gear lever. I recall being told, when confronted with such ‘bum scrapers,’ to keep the revs up!  I have become spoilt here in Canada as we drive automatic vehicles. You merely point and accelerate. So the co ordination of gear lever, clutch and brake all had to be synchronized in my ‘blonde head.’

 

I finally got the hang of it but was so grateful that men in my household were not able to observe me. After about ten minutes of rough starts and stalls, I made my way down to the other side of town where I was about to start my Christmas shopping. I parked conveniently and competently. I had got the hang of this ‘wild horse.’ I grabbed my coat and rushed into the building. The shopping was successful and I managed to find just what I was looking for. Oh how I wish that all of these shopping jaunts could be so successful! The Christmas list was now beginning to look less daunting. I paid for my goods and pushed my trolley out to my sleek chariot.

 

As I approached my car, I noticed that someone had stuck a wooden block behind one of my back tyres. Silly fool! Some prankster was obviously waiting for me to reverse over the big wooden ‘hump!’ I was irritated and threw my parcels into the boot. I took out the block and with great aplomb, threw it onto the sidewalk. Take that! I mumbled under my breath and swung my legs into the car. My tall frame took quite a bit of effort to get settled into the seat. These ‘bum scrapers’ are much lower than what I am used to. Then I looked up and noticed a note neatly clipped on my windscreen. It read….

 

You left your car on neutral. There is a piece of wood under your back wheel.

 

The note!

The note!

I imagined the scene. I had forgotten to put my handbrake on! ‘The black stallion’ decided to take off without its rider!  Someone observed the over zealous vehicle and rushed to the tyre place nearby. ‘The kind someone’ fetched a wooden block and gently pushed it up against the back wheel. My face burned red with embarrassment and shame!

 How was I going to explain this one away? Ha! Ha!

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The wind whistles through my open coat and I pull the buttons closed and toss the hood over my head. I now know why they have fur trim around the edge! I thought it was for a touch of glamour! But I was soon to find out that this thin strip of fur, keeps the wind off my face. I nestle down into my warm coat and contemplate the risk of a ‘Greenie’ tossing paint at me. Be that as it may, there is a feeling of goodwill all around us here in Oakville. It is the lead up to Christmas.

 

Josh tolerates the bow....just.

Josh tolerates the bow…..just!

Everyone has come out to play! Dogs are dressed up in their Christmas coats. They appear to know the drill for the season and enjoy the added attention that their regalia gives them. Shop windows glitter with displays. Their doors are decorated with bastions of fresh pine and cedar. There are overhead baskets that hang from lamp posts. They are filled with winter greenery and tinged with a sprinkle of snow. The town Christmas tree towers above us in the Town Square. It is dripping with huge shiny trinkets and metres of glistening ribbon. The aroma of festive spices wafts through the bakery door. Everything says Christmas!

Bokkie in all his splendour!

Bokkie in all his splendour.

 

Christmas feeling has hit the Morkel household too. The tree is up and the banisters are bound with lights and garlands. The Morkel men clambered up onto our roof and fitted the Christmas lights. It was a daring affair in almost freezing temperatures. They donned their safety harnesses and tossed the rope down from the cleats that have been fitted on top of the high roof. This is for any future escapades or further requests from ‘the lady of the house.’ There were also repairs that had to be carried out. ‘Bokkie’ had his lights punched out in a storm. On that fateful night he got tossed over by a strong north wind. Unfortunately he had to endure his headless state until he was packed away. But I am pleased to say that he has made a comeback and is the proud owner of a flashing head! He stands proudly near the front door and heralds us in with his pulsing horns. I just wish I could some how put the rhythm to music! Maybe next year……..

So I raise my glass of red and salute you, my dear family and friends. Thank you for always reading my ramblings and for keeping in touch. I wish you a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Cheers!

The roof mountaineers....

The roof mountaineers….

 

Christmas shopping

Christmas shopping

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Brrrrrr! The alarm screamed in my ear and I stumbled over to switch it off.  The sound still evokes ‘a pounding of the heart’ that transports me back to years of responding to the demands of a school bell.  It is strange how the bell symbolizes all the conforming that was required of me during my teaching years. But it is so different now. The alarm now heralds in the start of my new day. I have the choice to do more or less as I please. Wonderful! Once I have all the motherly tasks under my belt, I am free to go out and play!

What can I say? I have become a ‘Lady that Walks.’ I prefer it to the pastime of ‘doing lunch’ although the idea of a spot of lunch would probably also grab me. In fact a dash of shopping would also go down well. But the one that really gets me up and out into the ‘just above zero’ weather is a brisk walk! I don my ‘North Face armour’ and a pair of leg warmers. Then the fur trimmed hooded jacket is thrown on along with a thick scarf and a pair of woolen gloves. It is all I need to face the chill of the north wind across the lake.

The Ladies that walk

The Ladies that Walk.

 

Up until now, walking has been a solitary activity along with Josh, my Jack Russell. We have clocked up some mileage around the suburbs, chased many a squirrel and avoided skirmishes with raccoons and skunks. Other dogs have always been a challenge and Josh certainly does not fall into the category of being a ‘polite Canadian dog.’ So he gets his own private walk at the crack of dawn when there is little canine traffic. Once exercised, he is happy to settle down.  I, however, return to pound the pavements once more.

The group huddles under the town clock as we wait for the last few stragglers. The air is crisp and the steam of our breath wafts up as we greet each other. News is exchanged and the whereabouts of regulars is checked. We are the “Ladies that Walk.’ This does not mean that this is a singular activity, as our chatter can be heard around every corner. There always seems to be so much to talk about! So we live up to our name and the front few set the pace. Hats are pulled down as we brace ourselves against the cold. We always make our way down to the beautiful Ontario Lake. It is changeable and has the unpredictability of the sea. Some days it is serene and still and other times stormy and cold, but always fascinating.

One of the historic homes along the route.

One of the historical homes along the route

We pass along through the historical streets of Old Oakville. The cute cottages and stately homes blend in side by side. The different flags flutter proudly in the wind. They remind us not only of our heritage but of what has brought the group together…. we have a common bond:

We are all embracing change and our new lives here in Canada.

 

 

 

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