Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

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.

Read Full Post »

You can call me queen bee…..

The bright face turned around in the queue at Starbucks. She smiled when she heard us discuss the prospect of our ‘grab and go’ breakfast. Changing her stance discreetly, she continued to examine our faces. I wondered what could possibly be of interest to her so early in the morning. I felt like I had egg on my face! Most of us were just trying to hold ourselves together before that first cup of coffee! The morning face had been slapped together haphazardly and all other faffing had been done in record time. We had a plane to catch and we still had to make it through the Seattle commuter traffic.

That familiar coffee aroma wafted through past us. Mmmm….. I could not wait to take my first sip of the delicious bean beverage. The intrigued onlooker darted another glance our way. Was it our South African accents? Did I have some remnant of our cuddles with the twins stuck to the front of my raincoat? I thought back to those two sleepy faces and their precious sweet baby smell. We were going to miss them but would keep a close watch through skype and rejoice in all their milestones.

Goodbye cuddles with Jack and Kate.

Goodbye cuddles with Jack and Kate.

The queue shortened and we placed our orders. In no time the frothy steaming cups were passed across the counter.

Two grande latté

At last, I made my way across to the service table to grab the cinnamon. In my mind this was the piece de resistance. Three shakes would suffice and I automatically continued my routine as if in my own kitchen.

How y’all doing?

I glanced up and there stood the friendly face of our gawker. Did I really need this now? All I wanted to do was to knock back my first cup and to be left to wake up properly.

The melodious southern twang continued to tumble out. The questions ensued and we gave answers between the first sips of our coffee. It turned out that she had been to South Africa and was drawn to us as it brought back so many happy memories. Her eyes sparkled as she recounted her trip up to Kenya too. Then she stopped, almost in mid-sentence and looked us in the eye.

Y’all look like Ken and Barbie!

There was much laughter. Those who were old enough to recall my favourite toy joined in. Maybe we could pass for Ken and Barbie’s grandparents!

What a delight our stranger was. She brought amusement and a feeling of rejuvenation.  On those mornings when we creak out of bed and dare to look in the mirror, I gently toss over my shoulder…..

“So how is my Ken doing this morning?”

Ken in his other role....

Ken in his other role….

Kate enjoys the sparkles that Barbie has to offer....

Kate enjoys the sparkles that Barbie has to offer….

Read Full Post »

 

 

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…..?

 

Read Full Post »

 

(This young singer from Montreal has such talent!)

The grey clouds rolled in from the sea and the gulls whooped overhead. The harbour was abuzz with activity as the city of Vancouver woke to another day. There was the deep throated hoot from a sleek cruise ship. It was dropping off its load of passengers who had made the trip up to Alaska. Then the distinctive clatter of a seaplane propeller added to the orchestra of ‘sea sounds.’ The first load of island hopping tourists was heading out to sea. For a moment I was lost in thought, as I imagined the panoramic view that would be theirs from the air. 

 

 

Seaplanes, boats and mountains....

Seaplanes, boats and mountains….

  A shout went out…..”Hey, get out of my way!” The little man hung out of his truck window. He was perched in the driver’s seat with his cap pulled right over his cheeky eyes. He skillfully maneuvered his freight down the alley to the well frequented restaurant. They were obviously replenishing stocks as the warmer weather had brought in more customers. I dashed over the street as I could see that this driver meant business!
The fine drizzle continued and I slipped into a corner coffee shop and ordered my usual….a latte. I blended in with the locals now. They were all on their way to work supporting their cup of morning sustenance in their hand……the Canadian salute!
I stopped to find an ATM and noticed that there was one inside a shopping centre. The entrance was round the side of the building. The centre was quiet as the shoppers had not ventured out yet. It was easy to admire the well laid out shop frontages with all the bright spring colours. It was time to press on and I used a different exit to get out on the street again. The bustle greeted me as I looked around. I was disorientated.

Where was the sea? I find this ‘direction finding’ in the northern hemisphere so confusing, as I never know where the sun is supposed to be! I had to admit that I was lost! I contemplated my map in my pocket but decided otherwise. I did not want to stick out ‘like a tourist!’ After all I was working hard at blending in.

Where was the sea?

Where was the sea?

This resulted in ‘the blonde’ in me turning the wrong way. I had planned a tentative route before I left the hotel that morning. The ‘wrong way’ brought me to a very different part of downtown. Gone were the sleek ships and the debonair men in grey business suits. These men stood in queues and waited. They waited to receive help…… some for basic needs, others for shelter and many needed assistance with addictions. Those who did not form part of the line stood in doorways or sat in wheelchairs. Their faces weathered with deep lines that showed the hard road that they had walked. Sad eyes greeted me as I walked past them. I hesitated as I took in this sad scene.
What were their stories?

As with any city there are the softer moments too...the Chinese Garden.

As with any city there are the softer moments too…the Chinese Garden.

Read Full Post »

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.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

 

The garbage truck trundled around the corner.  The tell tale piles were perched outside every door on the curb. The trays of recyclables, bags of garden refuse and kitchen waste have all been sorted. It is 6.30am and bleary- eyed bundled figures have deposited their piles. None of us even give each other a sideward glance. The whole process is just too painful! We just want to rush back indoors to the warmth and the smell of coffee. Josh watches me from a window perched up on a chair. He is eager to get out there for his morning stroll and is undeterred by the freezing weather!

Garbage Day!

And so another day begins with the mundane and the chores that need to be done. I conquered a pile of laundry yesterday and felt the sweet taste of success as I packed away the 20 freshly ironed shirts. Oh how simple life’s pleasures sometimes are! Today the cupboards need to be filled. Vegetarian pasta just does not make the grade in this household of men! It is all about ‘carbo loading’ and plenty of muscle building protein. A big juicy steak and piles of chips makes their eyes twinkle! I try to keep this in mind as I am drawn to the whole wheat breads and what they term as ‘rabbit foods.’

Administration is another facet of this ‘stay at home’ wife. Today it is to be another ‘form filling in’ day. Two of our visas need to be renewed. We have to travel down to the US and re-enter Canada in order to do this. I will be wading through paperwork and trying to make sense of it all. Special travel documents need to be completed too. I search the websites and make sure so that we comply with the US requirements.  All I need is for us to be stranded on the other side!

But please don’t think that life in the suburbs is all about drudgery and mundane. There are the highlights too……walking out in the woods and wading through the streams, meeting a friend for a chat and a coffee in a cosy restaurant and watching all the Christmas preparations down town. The shops have put out all their decorative pots all glistening in white and silver to beckon us in. The bare winter trees have been given new life with the twinkling lights that run along their bark. The starkness of winter has a bright side too!

 Christmas time just seems to bring out the joie de vivre in people. We experienced a taste of this last weekend when we attended a Ball in the city. The evening started with a ride in a shiny white limousine. I felt like a princess….albeit an old one! Our hosts were warm and welcoming and we chatted over our sundowners as we chased along the highway into town. It was a glorious evening with good music, elegant food and interesting conversation.

I am constantly reminded of the pleasure with a bit of the pain…….

A night on the town……

 

 

 You can also visit  the site: 

http://www.expatwomen.com/

Read Full Post »

Josh checking out the weather…..is it good enough for a walk?

 

Josh pushed his nose up against the bedroom door and drew in a deep breath. It sounded like a train and the high pitch resonated through the crack. He knew that this was a sure method to get someone to respond to him in the morning. It was time for a walk!

 

The air was crisp and still and I felt the cool air against my bare arms.  As it was a Saturday morning, everyone was still having their usual lie in except for a few keen bike riders and the odd early riser like me. A bleary eyed man opened his front door and stumbled down to the gate to collect his newspaper. He obviously needed his fix of news with his early morning cuppa. A young mother raced along with her push buggy trying to console her irritable bundle. She shouted her morning greeting across her shoulder as she sped around the corner. Memories of my own inconsolable little mites came flooding back. I recall many days of pounding the pavements trying to sooth a ‘troubled teether.’ It always amazed me how difficult it was for them to cut the teeth and then how difficult it was to keep them in good shape. Teeth are hard work!

 

I passed a golden shrub and the air filled with its fragrance. It was soft and refined. No wonder it is so hard to capture this same fragrance in a bottle. Each garden I passed had a new scent to entice me. I would try to locate the source each time. As I glanced back I noticed roses, peonies and rhododendrons to name a few.  I was treated to the full array of lingering perfumes as I made my way down Lakeshore Road into the Old Town. Stately historical homes that had seen a hundred summers appeared to show off their manicured gardens with renewed summer vigour. Their long green lawns cascaded down to the lake. It was certainly just the right spot for a picnic. There were the tell tale sighs of   children. The rope from a tree swing hung nearby and a tricycle propped up against a tree.  I hoped that this lot had interrupted their play to enjoy the odd snack on this lush green carpet.

 

My stomach grumbled and it was definitely time to call in at my favourite café for the usual….. homemade croissant and a cappuccino.

Josh settled under the table with his eyes fixed on a nearby dog. It was just a matter of time before he leapt up and sent my coffee flying…….

Summer beauty!

 

 

 

Read Full Post »