Archive for March, 2013

The mushroom cloud of gas ascended the staircase. It grew in intensity as more particles were exuded by the culprit. The whole house was asleep. It was not surprising, as it was 5 am in the morning and the temperature gauge outside on the deck read minus 9 C. I stretched in my comfortable warm bed and waited for the familiar sound of tea cups. This was our morning ritual…….give mom a cup of tea on waking and she could face anything that might come her way! So the rustling, banging and pinging of the security bell continued downstairs as doors opened and closed. My mouth was dry and I wondered if I should relent and assist the tea maker.  I turned over and decided against it, my bed was just too cosy. I was about to doze off again when my comfort zone was disturbed…….

“That damn chimney stack is probably churning something foul out into the atmosphere,” I shouted down to the tea maker. There was no reply but the flurry of activity continued. I stumbled down the stairs suffering from the effects of my lack of ‘the morning cuppa.’ The tea maker was anxiously sitting at the table with his eyes glued to the iPad.

“What is going on?” I am not big ‘on the morning patience thing’ until my being has been gentle coaxed into consciousness. The magical powers of the ‘English Breakfast’ brew is a wonderful start to any morning. But this morning was going to be a challenge as I would have to face it cold turkey. It was soon to become apparent that I might need something a bit stronger than just tea. The tea maker looked up from the computer An antidote has to be here somewhere…………

Josh had been ‘skunked.’ The little bugger ran off when let out for his ablutions and got into a tussle with our resident skunk. Josh has been watching out for him for ages from the lounge window. He had stared out longingly with his jaws quivering and had built up quite an appetite for the little creature.. He was after all a true terrier! The sight and familiar scent of this ‘delectable morsel’ was just too much for him to bear.  He ran across and seized the moment. There was much hissing and growling. I don’t think he was expecting the retaliation that he received. The skunk furiously responded and did what a skunk does best……. Ready, aim, fire and the target was hit! Bull’s eye! The viscous yellow goop dripped off his head and down the side of his coat. Josh was suitably humiliated and ran back to the front door with his tail between his legs.


The look of shame......

The look of shame……


I was later to learn that this chemical is known as mercaptan.  It has a strong, sharp lingering smell and was vaguely familiar. My stomach turned as Josh was carried into the bathroom. A memory of a stench I had once endured came flooding back to me. We had lived near a paper mill in South Africa and had endured the ‘aroma.’ You never forget that especially if you combine it with ‘morning sickness!’ Josh hung his head in shame and despair. He knew he smelt awful. He could also hear from the tone of our voices and the odd cuss word that we were not pleased. We washed and scrubbed and still the odour lingered. Oh my, this was going to be a marathon.

Three days later we continue to wage the war against ‘the smell’ and wonder whether this is just another step in the direction of becoming Canadianised. Surely a really cold winter will suffice?



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The water glistened as the waves motioned towards the pier. Yachts were tied up with thick yellow rope and deckhands whistled as they polished and repaired. A seal bobbed up and checked if there had been any food debris thrown overboard. No such luck this time! Its sleek silhouette slipped back under the boat. “Come and buy the best bargain ever,” shouted a vendor. “Two for the price of one!” Music floated through the air as buskers beat out their rhythms and melodies. We all just soaked up the warmth of the sun and the reprieve from the gusty south easterly winds.

We had breakfasted at one of my favourite vantage points…..Rhodes Memorial. The bronzed lions still graciously line the steps. They proudly serve as bastions as they look out towards Table Bay. The huge granite steps provide a challenge for Leo, our 8 week old puppy. He shows his tenacity and makes it all the way up the path to the restaurant. It was surprisingly pet friendly and our pup was greeted with a handful of dog treats and a fresh water bowl. We are definitely coming back here again! It was one of those windless, warm clear days that we dream about. We could see right out in the direction of Bloubergstrand. My thoughts went back to when I was a young teacher and we used to stop off there on the way back from work! Back in the days when time and commitment were of no concern!

The view from Rhodes Memorial.
The view from Rhodes Memorial.

So I cannot stop myself from walking down memory lane when I visit this beautiful city. Floods of warm thoughts and connections are made as I tread the streets that were once part of my daily life. I had the added fortune of meeting up with some of my school friends that I had not seen for 40 years! There was much laughter as we visited our school days again. The pranks, the teachers…… It was wonderful to reflect on what we were like all those years ago. Had life changed us? We agreed that our essence was the same and although we were hopefully wiser, the twinkle in our eyes still shone brightly! The school theme prevailed on me and I met up with an ‘old pupil’ of mine as well. She is now a self assured, beautiful young lady who is studying at the University of Cape Town. I could not help seeing the young pigtailed bright little face in front of me still!

The Waterfront ......
The Waterfront ……

Cape Town is synonymous with a visit with family, this being my main purpose. I cannot explain the hole that one feels when you are separated from those that our dearest to you. Thank goodness for Skype! We walked, talked, laughed, had picnics and cried together and were reminded about what we cherish in each other. Those memories are precious and I hold onto them as I wing my way back to Canada. There was another part of my family waiting for me there. Although I am sure that my men folk enjoyed the peace and quiet while I was away. Josh would have certainly missed his mistress and the walks each day!

Leo discovers The Gardens.

Leo discovers The Gardens.

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‘Ek wens ek vlerke soos `n arend dan vlieg ek oor die see…….


The engines groaned and the plane shook as the landing wheels lowered into position. The vibrations had been part of my last 24 hours. I reminded myself that I should also don a pair of those grotesque earphones. Everyone else seems to wear them to block out the cacophony of plastic squeaking and mechanics rumbling. No, this would only lesson the excitement in my stomach. I need to hear each sound, savour the anticipation and enjoy all that was once familiar. I strained my neck forward to take in the lights and scanned the horizon for the recognisable landmarks.


 I had maneuvered my case off the turnstile with my one good arm and made my way through customs. As I clung to my South African passport I took in the familiar accents and people. Bright adverts and logos lined the corridors. There was a barrage of thoughts that flooded my head as my eyes and ears responded to the stimulus. One being…….I miss my regular dose of the Nando’s humour! I loved their regular adverts which always make use of any current events or politics. It always amazes me how it is the somewhat insignificant things that come flooding back when I put my feet down on South African soil. I can feel that I am back and I have not even got out of the airport building!


So much to do and say......

So much to do and say……

 Their bright faces stood out in the maze of people gathered at arrivals. It was wonderful to be able to finally see their familiar faces in the crowd! They were there waiting for me and as we jumped into the ‘bakkie,’ Kurt Darren’s voice rang out through the speakers. Tears of joy rang down my cheeks…..it was so good to be back with all that was dear and familiar.


‘Die rivier is vol maar die trane rol……..’

The stay in Johannesburg was short but just enough time to get over the jetlag and the swelling in my long suffering arm. The bonus was being able to make brief contact with dear friends. My only regret was that I could not get to see everyone. All too soon I stepped onto another aeroplane and the next leg of my journey had begun.


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