Archive for October, 2014

I turn 60 today! A milestone in anyone’s book and it comes with feelings of trepidation. Somehow the dreaded SIX has just come around too fast and I don’t feel quite ready for it. It is not the usual fears of the body starting to issue screams of protest when I attack yet a new outdoor hobby or the laughter lines that just seem to grow. It is the dread that I suppose I will now have to grow up!

When does one refrain from wearing your much loved blue jeans? Is there some special code of dress that I have to adhere to at this stage?  Maybe a twin set and pearls is more fitting. But the Woodstock Era with its flower power accessories still run deep in my veins. Can I still don my purple tights with white spots or better still the Christmas ones covered in reindeer?

Out paddling on Lake Ontario.

Out paddling on Lake Ontario.


Can I still jump up and dance when I hear a favourite song on the radio? (I know this childish act is usually a source of embarrassment to my family.)Is there still room for a good sulk? Will I be allowed to play pot-hockey in the kitchen when I find the house chores tedious?

I stumble into the bathroom and turn on the light. It is one of those awfully bright ones that does not lie. Yes, the face is gently showing the signs of the time and the grey hair is competing like a champion. It is inevitable and I accept it all gracefully……. not too gracefully as I shall continue to ‘put on the face’ each morning. Fortunately my sensitive eyes don’t allow me to use much ‘toorgoedjies’ which is probably a blessing in disguise. I prefer my morning ritual to be as fast as possible so that I can begin my day. So no pink blushing cheeks or purple eye shadow……..a sweep of cover stick and a dash of lipstick will have to suffice. The time has come for ‘less is more.’

'Twinset and pearls' but without the 'toergoed.'

‘Twinset and pearls’ but without the ‘toorgoedjies.’

It is liberating when you don’t concern yourself too much with what others think or say and you can merely be comfortable in your own skin. I have definitely been there and have the t-shirt and I wear my badges with honour. But having said this, I do not intend to just sit and watch my garden grow. Complacency is not something that I visit too often. I wish I did, as it would certainly do wonders for the old blood pressure spike! There is just too much out there to tempt me…….. a whole world still left to explore, books to read, music to listen to and people to meet.  It is good to be alive and hope that I don’t grow up any time soon.


You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing


......with a little help from my friends!

……with a little help from my friends!


Read Full Post »

(Carla Bruni is the former First Lady of France.)

The sun caught the fine strands of grey as he stooped over his table. There was an empty coffee cup pushed to one side and he gazed up into the trees. His suite was dark and of the finest cloth. It was well worn but still neat and distinguished. He stopped and put his hands together as he contemplated his next clue on the word puzzle. Suddenly we heard a  shout and a group of three women came round the corner.  They were laughing and they were discussing something at great length. Each one was adding their bit of colour to the story. There was a gasp and a peal of laughter  burst forth. They walked across the square towards the grey-haired man. He looked up and a smile broke across his face.

“C’est une belle journée.”

The town square where locals meet and play petanque.

The town square where locals meet and play ‘petanque.’


There was much kissing of cheeks …..one kiss, two kisses and three. Espresso coffees were ordered and everyone settled back into their seats. The talk continued between the women. They waved their arms and pointed hands expressively while the grey-haired man looked up at them patiently.

The breeze picked up and blew the autumn leaves across the town square towards the entrance of the café.  The local ferronnier had set up his workshop next to the café. He stood in the doorway with a cigarette smoldering in his hand. His face was well worn from the exposure to the heat of his workshop and the blue light of the welding gun had taken its toll on his eyes. He shouted across to the women but they could not be distracted. Two men joined him and there was much back slapping and laughing.

I am not sure if the kiss-kiss ritual featured here. The ferronnier took the last pull on his cigarette and they made their way into the café. Through the doorway I could just make out the small glasses in their hands. A small aperitif was being knocked back as the cards were dealt around the table. This appeared to be their regular mid morning break!

Time to sit and stare....

Time to sit and stare….


We sat under the trees in the town square of the medieval village of Villecroze. There is a 40 metre waterfall that cascades from a group of caves on the hill right down into the formal gardens below. What a sight! It is a tranquil garden and a source of solitude for the town’s folk and us visitors. The formal layout with the cascading stream, elegant Cypress and terracotta pots beckoned us to delay our leave.

The waterfall

The waterfall

But the intrigue of the old village made us venture back into the town. The village meandered between the ancient city walls……… some dating back to the 12th Century. The front doors and entrances were unique and often held a collection of treasured items. A watering can, a doll’s pram and a metal chair graced one of the entrances. It was as if time stood still. We paused and reflected on the history. The ancient stone walls conjured up images of splendid knights in dazzling armour. 

The medieval archways of Villecroze.

The medieval archways of Villecroze


There was a loud crash and we were brought back to reality. A new lounge suite was being hoisted through a top wooden window. The old hoist was being used and the shutter had been pinned back. The lumbering chair was slowly maneuvered through the opening.

Life goes on at its own pace here in the countryside of France. We stop a while and stare and savour the moments.


The ‘I don’t know what’ and the ‘Almost nothing.’









Read Full Post »

Another year another turkey……

“Which one do you think would be better?”

My question was directed at an experienced looking housewife. She had tossed the birds around, examined their weight and made her decision. I marveled at her expertise and the swiftness of her decision making process. After all she had been doing this for years and I had 3 years under my belt!

“ Should I go with the 7 kilogram one or should I go a bit bigger?” The humble pasty- grey bird peered safely up at me from the supermarket fridge. Much deliberation went on.  A few women had gathered around me now and eagerly offered this newbie advice. More questions were asked and preference for white or brown meat was discussed. This was a serious matter. Eventually the decision was made and it was unanimous.

“So this is the one then.” I heaved the 10 kilogram bird into my shopping cart. My back muscles twinged under the strain. It was one hell-of-a fine bird!  Of course I won’t mention this to the family. There is no need for them to know that I was ably assisted by my experienced new helpers. After all, us girls stick together!

My shopping cart trundled off to the check out. The humble bird’s destiny had been sealed.  It was bound for the  Morkel’s Thanksgiving table.





It is our third Thanksgiving here in Canada and it is probably one of the best times of the year. People scurry around and prepare for winter. Gardens are cleaned up and anything that could be ravaged by the extreme temperatures is packed away. The leaves have begun to add colour to our walks around Oakville. Roads and paths are covered with ‘the drop’ and we notice and appreciate the hues of orange, yellow and the red. We savour the swansong of summer in the form of Fall and recognize that the burst of colour will have to tide us through till Spring next year!

Josh is sue that a skunk lurks nearby....

Josh is sure that a skunk lurks nearby….

But for now we celebrate the bounty of the harvest and all that it brings with it. One such event is Thanksgiving where a feast is held. Each family prepares a sumptuous meal to enjoy with family and friends. Around our table this year will be our adopted Canadian family.( I must add that they have not had much say in the matter….they are family whether they like it or not! ) I am thankful to them for all the support that they have offered us in this our new country. Distance dictates that a few people will be missing from our table. Our family from the US and our beautiful brand new grand children will be with us in spirit.

God only knows what I would be without you……

Happy Thanksgiving!






Read Full Post »

Bonjour Madame’…….The chiseled face of a custom’s official peered at me across the counter as I slid my passport over towards him.  ‘Bonjour Monsieur.’ I nervously straightened up my carefully considered ‘French- arrival- outfit.’ I only had a few French phrases that I could retrieve if need be and that was one of them! I had been traveling for over 12 hours so hardly as fresh as a fleur de lis and the said outfit looked like it had been pulled from the ironing basket! But the sight of Nice nestled up against the azure Mediterranean Sea and the sleek yachts from the air were enough to blow any sleep deprivation away.  The excitement welled up inside me. I felt like a child with a new toy on Christmas day!  It was a dream come true….a visit to the south of France.

The road less traveled...

The road less traveled…

 We took the ‘road less traveled’ and wound our way through the French countryside. Medieval towns stood proud on vantage hilltops. The ancient walls of Tourtour, Entrecasteax and Villecroze charmed the historian in me. Besides the restaurants, life went on as it had done for centuries past. The old man sat in the sun with his dog at his side, the young woman carried her sleeping child through a narrow passage and the bell chimed out the midday hour. I took a sip from the crystal clear water in the village fountain and savoured the fact that I was actually in France! I could not help feeling a sense of déjà-vu. The Mediterranean plants were so reminiscence of the Cape flora. Agapanthus, star jasmine and wisteria grew wildly in terracotta pots. The fragrance of rosemary and lavender filled the air in potager gardens. Stately Cypress demarcated formal areas and skillfully crafted iron gates adorned entrances.

Local brew against the backdrop of antiquity.

Local brew against the backdrop of antiquity.

 The steep roads wound down the mountains and through the vineyards and silvery olive groves. There were stops at small cafes tucked away on narrow streets. Crepes dripping with fig and melted Camembert washed down with a local beer. Then the cherry on the top…….We were treated to the splendour of a lunch at the Domaine de la Baume. We took our time to enjoy the elegant French cuisine and fine wines. I had to pinch myself at times to make sure that this was a real experience and not some dream or fantasy! The added delight was the formal gardens that surrounded the chateau.  I can safely say that I am officially labeled a ‘kyk daar.’ I could not refrain from just pointing out all that caught my eye.

Formal gardens at the chateau.

Formal gardens at the chateau.


  Years of poring over French books did not disappoint. My visit to the south of France was just as I imagined it, but oh so much more thrilling! It has filled me with a joie de vivre that will hopefully sustain me through our cold Canadian winter.  I have stored these happy memories up safely and will relive, reflect on and savour over the next few years. What a wonderful 60th birthday experience. It will live on in my heart forever.

La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin.

Life is too short to drink bad wine.




Read Full Post »