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Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

I almost can cannot handle it…….

It had been months of preparation and finally the truck had been packed up with all our worldly possessions. You could not squeeze another toothbrush into the back of the neatly tessellated boxes. We had managed to downsize somewhat and I felt relieved that the loot had reduced to a more manageable amount. I waved at the already familiar truck driver as he rounded the corner. He had a good 40 hours of driving ahead of him across Canada. Did I ever realise how big this place was before we got here?

Another box to add to the pile....

Another box to add to the pile….

 

I have been waiting for this moment……..

The relief was tangible and I felt the stress just tumble off my shoulders. Now all that was left was to organise Josh’s travels and the 2 cars. The vehicles were fetched that evening by 2 flatbed trucks. The drivers walked around the 2 clean immaculate passengers. Even ‘they’ had been prepared for their trip to the west coast! The drivers strutted around and rubbed at the dust marks on the body work. But I knew these 2 beauties were ready and scratchless and could be winched into place. From there they would be driven into a carrier and securely tied down. Our pool table was going to be slide in alongside the cars. Another thing to tick off the ‘to do’ list!

My Highlander graciously takes up her position....

My Highlander graciously takes up her position….

It is good to be alive round about now…..

At 5am the next morning Josh was collected. He gingerly jumped into his crate and settled down on his familiar soft blanket. He looked across at me knowingly. I assured him ‘that the trip was shorter this time round.’ The last of my packing was done. What a relief! The next few days would be spent with family and friends. It was bitter sweet to say goodbye. I suppose the reality of what you have meant to people and what they have meant to you only really hits home when you leave. I was very honoured and touched by the outpouring of emotion. I am so grateful to them for being part of my life over these last 5 years. We hope that Vancouver will be on their favourite list of vacation spots in the near future.

I think I have finally found my Hallelujah….

The call came in at the airport that the truck in which are cars were traveling had met with an accident. No one was hurt fortunately….. except the cars! In true Canadian fashion a moose had walked out across the road and the truck had swerved to avoid it. What are the chances? Oh well, they are after all, just vehicles. I will be most grateful if the second truck gets to us safely. Hopefully no moose migration is imminent over the next few days.

The culprit.....

The culprit…..

Somehow I fancy a little red low- slung number. On second thoughts maybe an orange one……we are after all empty nesters with no ‘real’ responsibilities!

I could get used to this……

My beloved garden pots have certainly seen a bit of the world....

My beloved garden pots have certainly seen a bit of the world….

 

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I’m only one call away……

It is hard to believe that 5 years have passed since we landed here in Canada. There was so much to absorb and learn over that time. Many of you have followed me through my blog with these trials and tribulations. You have encouraged and sometimes commiserated with me and I have so appreciated your impute. No longer a stranger here in Canada, I have the feeling of permanence and belonging to this vast country. But ‘life’ decided to toss me another surprise, just in case I decided I might go down the curved path of complacency…..a move across Canada to Vancouver!

“Oh no! How do I put my head around this one?”

We say goodbye to Oakville and all our favourite haunts.

We say goodbye to Oakville and all our favourite haunts.

Change is never easy but change in those Golden Years is even harder. But our South African pioneering spirit stands us in good stead and before too long I was ready ‘to pack and follow.’ As I slowly sift through the contents of the house in my effort to downsize, I reflect on our time here in Oakville. A lump surfaces in my throat when I think of the family I leave behind. Hopefully the attractions of Vancouver and us, of course, will bring them over for frequent visits. We have family nearby across the border in the US which is an added bonus. So Morkel gatherings will be easier to orchestrate once the Toronto family have hit town.

Our forest in our new home .....

Our forest in our new home …..

Call me if you need a friend……

Friends are going to be hard to leave. These ladies have taught me so much with their generous spirits. I am richer for having them in my life and am grateful for their kindness. They have given me a rudimentary appreciation of Art, taught me various Pilates positions which have put a spring in my step, shown me how to wield a paddle so that a canoe moves, familiarised me with the property market in Canada, instructed me in the art of interior decorating so that I know how to group and use colour or have just been my companion on long walks or a coffee date. I am going to miss you all so much.

No matter where you go
You know you’re not alone……

I leave here with a full heart.  We do hope that you will visit us in the beautiful city of Vancouver.

The view from the north shore across to Vancouver.

The view from the north shore across to Vancouver.

 

I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away.

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This is what I have been waiting for……..

My car is parked surreptitiously down the side of our house in my neighbour’s driveway. Josh is next to me in his basket. He watches intently as the ‘foreign’ visitors make their way up our stairs and through the front door. He is accustomed to the ritual of ‘clearing out of the house’ each day. Private viewings seem to be the format here in Canada and Show Days are reserved for the inquisitive shoppers. Once he notices me grab hold of his bed, he rushes to the door. He is ever hopeful that this evacuation might include a walk. We sit there in the sub-zero temperatures until the viewing is complete. Each prospective buyer is sized up by myself and my canine helper. Is this the one?

I know it is going to be a good day……

I struggled to write this passage as I found the whole process of selling our beloved house emotional and difficult. Strangers were in and out of our Maison de Morkel. They quizzically sized it up from all angles and inspected every corner. But 3 weeks have passed since then and I am happy to announce that the deed is done. Our house is finally sold!

It has happened!

It has happened……

Canada is a huge country and to move from east to the west coast is like moving to another continent. It would have taken us 4 days to drive the distance. Instead we are going to wing our way over this vast country while the contents are being shoved into containers and onto a truck. Josh has had his very own designer wooden crate made and squeezed back into the hold on the plane too.  The Groot Trek Mark 2 is about to begin.

I shuffle my slipper less toes to the kitchen……….

A house does not just shut itself up! Besides the disconnection of all the usual utilities like gas and water, there is mail to be redirected. We won’t even mention the sorting and discarding that needs to happen. Conveniently I am the only one left at home once my youngest son leaves for university. So the lot of packing and throwing out has been unanimously delegated to mom. A quick word of warning…….Don’t play the ‘Where is it?’ game with me once we get to Vancouver!

Hello, you beautiful thing……

There is some merit in the sorting frenzy as one gets to re-evaluate your worldly possessions and to say farewell to those that just don’t bring you ‘joy’ anymore. I know that might sound trite, but hear me out. I recently read The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up. According to the author on the New York best seller’s list, Marie Kondo, “If it does not bring joy……chuck it!” This book could not have arrived at a more timely moment when all our household goods were about to be scrutinised, categorised and some eliminated. You begin to realise how little you really need.

My thoughts are all I have so I try to make them brave……

In my mind’s eye I can see myself with my head buried deep in a cupboard looking for the elusive joyless item!

 

 

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Like a small boat on the ocean sending big waves into motion…..
My hand works skilfully up and down the clear window pane. A stray hair blows across my face and I stop and gaze out towards the river. It lies dormant with its thick ice cap and dainty snow crystals that cling to the surrounding trees. As with all tasks that are repetitive, it helps to keep in the rhythm. Up and down the soft cloth soothes…..it will be the last time. I reach down low to the small finger prints of the twins. I falter and then continue with my stroke. One swish and the sticky marks have been erased. It has begun. I have begun the process of cleaning, sorting, throwing out and the packing of boxes.
My power is turned on……

A rekkie in Vancouver this last week.....

A rekkie in Vancouver this last week…..

The Groot Trek Mark 2 will be a mere 3500 km from Toronto to Vancouver. We rush around and get our house ready for the inevitable Show Day. We replace light bulbs, make lists and run backwards and forwards to donate accumulated ‘things’ to the thrift store. Personal items like our cherished family photographs are all safely packed away. The house needs to appear to prospective buyers like a blank canvas. What a hard task that is! It is as if Maison de Morkel never existed. In our hearts it still does and I remind myself that it is healthy to visit all this sentimentally. The downsizing has begun…..
This is my fight song…….
“I can do this.” I tell myself as I round the corner on my way back from the lake. It is strange……the other day I was priding myself on my exceptional navigational skills. I know all the short cuts and seldom get lost. The monotone voice of my SATNAV used to be my constant companion but her job is in definite jeopardy. I finally have a sense of belonging here in Oakville. It has taken almost 5 years for that wonderful state of ‘I belong here’ to kick in. But as life has it, one must never get too comfortable or feel just a tad complacent. Immigration has certainly taught me to accept change and CHANGE I must….. It does not help to fight this new state but rather to channel my energy into preparing for our new life in Vancouver.
Starting right now I will be strong….
We leave behind our 2 sons and our dear friends. My heart feels heavy at the mere thought of it. One gets used to keeping your family close when you do this ‘country hop.’ It is going to seem strange not to have them popping in for a chat, dad’s steak or mom’s pasta. We are so grateful to the friends and neighbours who have been there for us. They have shared all our trials and tribulations. It is a bitter sweet move as the rest of our family awaits our arrival on the other side. I see 2 little faces running up our driveway.
No doubt Jack and Kate will make new finger prints on our Vancouver abode.

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Christmas with the family in Toronto 2015.

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January is my time to dream……. The nights are long and the polar cap blows its icy winds. It is all too easy to snuggle up in front of a crackling fire. My mind is preoccupied by my dreamy thoughts where I look forward to the year ahead. There will be no thoughts on New Year’s resolutions either. Oh no, that is not for me! No thoughts on cutting out chocolate or on how I am going to be able to brave the cold for that much needed walk. January is my reprieve and my time to ponder. It is my La La Land month and I visit it with much zest and enthusiasm.
It had been a busy and special Christmas with our house bursting with our family. It was wonderful to have them all home with us and under our roof. Two active toddlers kept us all on our toes as we ran after them and attended to their needs. There was never a dull moment. We dreamed up indoor activities to busy these little tykes. One being a slide around the house on the indoor snow sledge. The kitchen was a hive of activity too. Our table was full and so were our hearts. When the house eventually emptied it seemed to echo. There was less of everything…..less laughter, less music and less food!

 

My kitchen helpers.....

My kitchen helpers…..

Lemon anyone?

Lemon anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
This deprivation made me plunge headlong into dreamland. There were French lanes and intimate coffee shops. In my mind’s eye were quaint shop windows with French bakeries and French delicatessens. That was it, a trip to France! I scolded myself as I thought of the practicality of seeing this dream come to fruition. The brain went into overdrive. There was a plan. What about a trip up to Quebec City? It was only 800 km away instead of 6000 km and it would certainly be kinder on the coffers. A few phone calls were made, an Airbnb booked and we hit the road.
I must add at this point that I do not speak a word of French. We have heard that the Quebecois are understandably fiercely proud of their heritage and their language. Therefore I needed a quick crash course on a few fundamentals. The long car trip was the ideal time to practice and I rolled my tongue around the que’s and the de’s.
Un, deux, trois, quatre…..
This was hard and I just wished that I could make my words sound like my French teacher! It would have to do and I spent the rest of the trip reading up on the places to visit in Quebec City. Chateau Frontenac along the frozen Saint Lawrence River, Place Royale, Basilique Notre Dame de Quebec, La Citadelle and the historical Old City caught my eye. I also found our period house ‘La Victorienne’ in Rue Saint Jean where we would be spending the next 4 days.

 

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It was as I had envisaged it. There were narrow cobble streets to explore, French food to savour and plenty of French culture to soak up. I was in heaven!

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A painted mural in the Old Town.

 

 

 

The Plains of Abraham where the English and French battled it out.

The Plains of Abraham where the English and French battled it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January is the month to dream and to look forward to the year ahead and the journey within.

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Go for it!

Good one!

The words ring in my head as I spectate on the side of yet another match. There is a stash of supplies close by of protein rich sustenance and plenty of liquid to quench even the most insatiable thirst. It has been almost 25 years of running up and down the side lines. There were times when excitement pushed me to the limits and I took being the family ‘cheerleader’ to the next level! Many a red face gave me ‘the look’ while mom did her thing oblivious to any observers.

Oh I think I have found myself a cheerleader….

Ever since I joined the ranks of being ‘a senior’ and have hung up my proverbial ‘teacher boots,’ I have questioned my function not only in my family but in society. It is a humbling experience to go from this active role to one of finding purpose in your day. Yes, I know there is lots to be grateful for and I am. I also know how fortunate I am to be able to stay at home. I have revelled in this time and the many new exploits and endeavours have filled my days. But fortune has changed that lately as our main bread winner was given the handshake.   Initially there is the shock and the insecurity that floods one’s thoughts. Then the reality check and the deliberation of “what to do next.”

A spot of camping maybe.....

A spot of camping maybe…..

The prospect of moving countries again was entertained but quickly dismissed as we decided as a family that Canada is definitely to be our home. This was no idle thought as some promising openings came up and it had to be considered. So what were we to do in the meantime? We could go into overdrive and take the first job that came along or…..take some time off and get to know what that little voice sounds like again. The latter seemed to be much more attractive as extensive global travel and long hours had robbed us of our head of the household for far too long.

Our tentotik, a Canadian version of 'glamping.'

Our tentotik, a Canadian version of ‘glamping.’

Deep in a drawer was a folder. I had been collecting articles of all the local places that I would like to visit. It had been gathering dust as we could not find a gap in this busy schedule. As I was the one who would have to organise such outings, I had the advantage of choosing the first break away activity. I knew exactly which one it would be and pulled out the article on tentotiks. These are tent like structures that have been erected by the Canadian Parks Board in rural areas to encourage the intrepid camper. I love camping as it conjures up so many happy memories of lazy holidays along the coast of South Africa. Therefore there were no illusions as to the thought and effort that would go into making a trip like this happen.  So ‘glamping’ in style was an easier option. This meant that our heavy, thick canvas lion-proof tent could be left at home. Food, bedding and fishing paraphernalia was all that was needed. What a win!

The road less traveled...

The road less traveled…

In the last 2 months we have explored the ‘road less traveled.’ It has been a time to reflect and to consider what we feel is important to us as a family. One thing I know, there is still an active part for me to play here at home. I have been reminded never to underestimate the importance of this role. It might be unseen and sometimes feel trivial, but vital nevertheless.

All I need now is a colourful tutu and the largest pair of pompoms I can find!

 

 

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Anne…….my name rang out through the hollows of the shopping centre here in Oakville. I was deep in thought and dismissed the familiar sound. Back in South Africa I used to get my name shouted out wherever I went. The friendly little faces of my pupils would pop up all over the place and they would always make sure that I took cognisance of the fact that they were there. Hello ma’am…..It was precious but there were times that I wished I could have gone about my day incognito.  Be careful what you wish for…..

Those Boland Mountains...

Those Boland Mountains…

Today is the 4th anniversary of us being in Canada. Four years…..It seems incredible! Time has moved so fast and there are moments that seem almost surreal. One makes links to the familiar back in South Africa and then I have to remind myself that I am actually living in Canada!  So today is one of mixed feelings. On the one hand it is a day of celebration….like a birthday. We have planned a special family meal to commemorate it. There is even that bottle of champagne that had for some time been hiding at the back of the fridge. As with each birthday maturation has taken place with the passing of each year. There has been settling in, acclimatisation and growth. On the other hand there is also that sense of loss that lurks in the shadows of the mind. The place that you try not to visit too often as it evokes those pensive thoughts ….

A Canadian sunset along the Sixteen Mile Creek.

A Canadian sunset along the Sixteen Mile Creek.

Then I heard my name again. There seemed to be more insistence in the shout this time. I hesitated. In my four years here in Canada, I have yet to be recognised by someone in a big shopping centre. I turned round slowly and saw the familiar face. Her bright eyes shone and the warmth of her smile greeted me.

“Hi, how are you doing?”

I ran up to my yoga teacher and threw my arms around her.

Yes, someone knew and recognised me.

I have history!

The sun sets on our fourth year in Canada...

The sun sets on our fourth year in Canada…

 

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