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Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

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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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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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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The turkey has enough butter stuffed under the skin to make Nigella blush and the gluwein is simmering away on the stove. Our tree sparkles from the front room……

The trees lay stacked up on the side of the road bursting with the promise of Christmas. The Douglas Fir, White Pine, Scottish Pine and the Blue Spruce….the choice was endless. Which one would it be this year? We had driven along Highway 8 through the greenbelt along the escarpment. The vegetables stalls had given way to the sale of Christmas trees, no more pumpkins and asparagus but rows of fuzzy green. Much thought and effort goes into the right choice of Christmas tree here in Canada. Families deliberate over how tall it has to be, the shape and whether it will shed its leaves. We stop the car at a nearby diner to grab a coffee and notice a little boy as he gazes up at the tall frame of the chosen tree.
“Dad, this is the one!”

The excitement and wonder beams from his face. The practical dad contemplates how he will tie it onto the roof of the car. He paces out the length and works on his plan. Mother has a faraway look on her face as she recalls the Christmases past and is envisaging this tree with the family decorations. There were heirlooms that are brought out each year and a few new additions to add to the sparkle. My coffee steams as I make my way through the brisk air. I pull my hood over my head and feel the fur trim snug against my face. My thoughts go back to 3 young boys that gathered around our tree back in South Africa. It will be the turn of our grand children soon!

Our Christmas Tree

Our Christmas Tree

The bare deciduous trees that shook off their leaves in the fall are tinged with snow. The evergreens cling onto the soft white powder like a cake does to frosting. The sun slips down behind the hills early as we wend our way back home. The snow illuminates our path and the houses twinkle with Christmas lights. Bright white lines the roofs, iridescent blue around the doorways and soft red sparkle in the shrubs. Fresh garlands accentuate   the wooden slatted porch and rustic White Birch reindeer guard the front door.

It is Yuletide in Canada and a time to make memories with family and friends. There will be a special place near our tree this year for those who are no longer with us. They will be  greatly missed.

I wish you all a joyous Christmas!

A white Christmas.....?

A white Christmas…..?

 

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With a little love and some tenderness we will walk upon the water and we will rise above the mess….

A peel of laughter resonates from the car as I slip and catch myself just in time. The ice is thick in the driveway and each walk to the bottom is a trip of concentration and careful placement of my new snow boots. Designer…… ‘nogal’ with very becoming soles as thick as tractor tyres. I would not say that they are the most flattering pair of shoes in my repertoire. But this is Canada and we adapt or die!

A stormy day at the lake...

A stormy day at the lake…

With some peace and some harmony…..

There is an audience inside the car. They are appreciating my performance while I negotiate the driveway….of course I am trying to have a conversation as well. It just does not work for me! I hate to admit that I cannot do 2 things at once. There is no place for those who feel they are just too feminine or just too gracious either. Soon enough the ice gets you and before you know it, you are flat on your rear. What a great leveler this weather can be!

 

I have a hand for you….. 

I passed my ‘snow squall driving test’ the other evening which left me bursting with pride. I need to set the scene for you……. The sun had already set (not that we see it that often at the moment.) It was a blustery evening and the snow was drifting all over the road. The temperatures were nearing minus 30 and I was traveling an unfamiliar route. Suddenly I realized that I had taken a wrong turning. It was time for the infamous U-turn. I put the flicker on and just did it! Some kind soul waited patiently for me to perform my act of dexterity. The turning circle in our vehicle is somewhat under developed. This is purely my observation. Need I say then that this fact caused me to mount an ice heap! It was purely a design flaw. I stopped and regained my composure. By this stage quite a queue had formed. They politely waited for me to perform another antic. I had to get off this mound of snow and ice! After a few manouvers, which I will refrain from expounding upon, I drove off the icy mountain. Thanks goodness for the 4-wheel capabilities and the snow button.….whatever that does.

 We are treated to a Canadian sunset!


We are treated to a Canadian sunset!

I want to love you the best that I can……

And so we battle on through yet another Canadian winter……our third. It is apparently the worst recorded since 1986. I am pleased though as I can officially say that we DO know what it really feels like ‘to be cold.’ No longer will I have to endure the words: “Just you wait till February hits you.” We are grateful to the local knowledge that is graciously shared and this has equipped us to cope with most eventualities. Although I think I need to get a bit more detail on how to dismount an ice heap.

Can I say that I have done it and have the T-shirt?

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As it turns out, I have recently proven to be quite a sleuth! My investigative talents were however not drawn upon to wade through the mounds of files to find original documentation.  I do this task with the automation of a robot and because I have to! I have become a master at sliding my brain into ‘oblivion mode’ when I have to complete repetitive tasks that don’t grab me!  (Ironing and housework to name just a few are tucked in between the paper chase.) But to get back to the paper work…….You need to take into account that these files were packed in South Africa, traveled  over twelve thousand kilometers by sea in a container and were then unpacked here in Canada. I peered into the boxes and tried to make some sort of order out of all ‘this past life.’ It was crucial as certain bits of information were required from these files in order to obtain permanent residency here in Canada.

 

We were quite excited when all the bits and pieces were found and our application was submitted. That was the easy bit! For ages one hears nothing from the authorities. You just wait. Then one day we are told to go for full medicals, yet again. I have had every orifice examined numerously all in the name of permanent residency. I am happy to announce that I am definitely in fine fickle!  Then the other day, the big one was dropped on us……. The Canadian authorities needed a police clearance certificate from Zimbabwe. Oh my hat! This was going to take some doing! We had one from 1981 but this was no good. It had to be current!

 

So this was when the ‘sleuth mode’ kicked in. Web sites had to be trawled and the appropriate forms found. We got this all assembled, sent a payment through our bank and couriered off the documentation to Harare. This was straight forward….. Weeks went by and we heard nothing. How would we retrieve this vital document from Zimbabwe? We racked our brains to recall any contacts that we might have had in Harare. But to no avail, most of our family and friends had already left and were scattered all over the world.

I resorted to Google. I typed in my request……. Assistance needed in the retrieval of a Zimbabwe police certificate. Lawyers’ names in Harare popped up on my computer screen in response to my search. I was in luck! I contacted a few of them and explained my dilemma. Within a few hours I had a response! The knight in shiny armour efficiently retrieved the precious document and sent it on its way back to Canada. (Thank you, Ken!)

 

It is now safe in the hands of the Canadian authorities in Ottawa. It is probably in a file somewhere on someone’s desk. If only they knew what talent and effort had gone into putting that file together. I do hope that nothing further is required to finalise the process.  I would also like to put my sleuth talent on hold for a while, that is……

Happy Canada Day!

Never let go......

Never let go……

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You walk a lonely road; oh so far you are from home…….

 

The bustle of the airport was overpowering and I felt the nausea rise in my throat. My swollen arm ached and I cursed myself for my stupidity at my uncoordinated crash from the ski lift. These journeys back to South Africa are long and lonely. Mixed feelings and longings fill my head as I try to rise above my pounding head and sore body.

“Hello, I heard you speak, you must be South African!” A bright cheerful face looked down on me. Those kind words quickly washed away my self pity and wallowing. We chatted and connected with the similar threads that had been part of our lives. My new friend was further down the road of the ‘Trans- Atlantic Living’ and I valued the tips and similar experiences that we shared. Too soon it was time to board and the conversations would have to continue once we were back in Canada.

The view from Loonshadow.

Morning coffee on the deck at  Loonshadow

 

May it be that you journey on to light the day…..

 

Many months later we joined the weekend exodus of Canadians up to Cottage Country. We were to reconnect with our fellow South Africans. The spring colours burst forth as we travelled up east deep into the Kawartha Highlands. The name ‘Kawartha’ means “the Land of Reflections.’ The name did not disappoint as we indulged our eyes on the ice- melt rivers and the glistening dark waters.  You do know that there is more lake area in Canada than any other country in the world! I digested that thought while the road meandered on through the hills and dark forests. We had been on the road for almost 3 hours and a cup of coffee and a rusk would certainly would have gone down well! The car rounded one last corner and in the clearing, a cottage nestled amongst the trees. We were finally at “Loonshadow.’

 

A walk in the forest

A walk in the forest

Believe and you will find your way……..

 

The front door opened and our South African hosts were there to greet us. There was that same hospitality that I had experienced at Amsterdam Airport. The weekend had begun….

The men tried their hand at fishing but they could only tell us about ‘the one that got away.’ Besides, who needs fish when you have loads of steak and boerewors! The women ambled through the dense forest, while the boys ventured out on the quad bike. There was much to talk about and we covered a range of topics, like only women can. Everything from ‘what hair product works best in Canada’ to ‘the best places to shop.’ What can I say? I am sure that the men’s conversation was a far cry from this, especially being that their favourite rugby team had just been defeated! The sounds of our voices were like a whisper as the forest floor echoed under our feet. It was time to see to the evening meal.

 

There is nothing quite like staring into a fire.....

There is nothing quite like staring into a fire…..

May it be an evening star shines down upon you…..

 

A roaring fire was made and we gathered round as the light disappeared from the mirrored lake. The sad howl of the loon duck faded and the shrill call of the osprey broke the silence of the night. It was perfect and even the bite of the black flies could not spoil it for us. There is always a bit of pain with the pleasure…….

 

 

 

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