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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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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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I’m 15 for a moment

Caught in between 10 and 20……

My gaze followed the shape of the giant Stellenbosch Mountain that etched itself against the clear blue sky. It stood out in front of me as I walked up through the vineyards close to my house.

I often wandered there in those teenage years as I contemplated my future. Some of these thoughts were not profound as I would often merely dream about the weekend that lay ahead. It was a wonderful place to grow up! There were trips to the beach with friends, gatherings on the local farms and often a ‘braaivleis’ in the backyard. Whatever the activity, it was always sociable and usually outdoors. The breeze rustled the pine trees close by as my feet echoed over the sodden earth. I do remember those Cape winters with all that rain!

Camping 'hippie' style

Camping ‘hippie’ style

I’m 22 for a moment

And she feels better than ever….

The giant Table Mountain towers above me as I drive my mini along De Waal Drive. I am adept at taking those corners at quite a speed. My little car hugs the edges while I gaze across Table Bay. Huge ships from far away places dwarf our Table Bay basin. The flags of Norway, the United States and Great Britain flutter in the South Easter and I envisage myself visiting these places one day…….one day.

 Life was careering along at quite a pace. The years of studying were complete and I became involved in the demands of a teaching post. There was seldom a free moment but that did not take away any of the joy of imparting knowledge and hopefully teaching some life skills to eager faces along the way. There was much abundance in so many areas of my life. But we learnt to cope with less and had to wait for ‘things.’  Still don’t know how I managed to rent, eat and live on a teacher’s salary! But we did it…..life was simple and we were happy to entertain ourselves.  There was time for a long walk along the beach at Kommetjie and there were sunsets across Sea Point to enjoy……usually with a glass of red wine.

A new teacher.....

A new teacher…..

I’m 33 for a moment

Still the man, (woman) but you see I’m a ‘they’……

The Pilanesburg Mountains stood silhouetted against the morning Highveld sky. There are plenty of happy thoughts that fill my head.

The joy of parenthood has certainly been a highlight in my life. The wonder of watching a little being develop into an adult fills me with awe. I take ownership and delight in their strengths and their weaknesses. They are manifestations of one of my purposes here on this earth…… ‘Go forth and multiply.’ My 3 beautiful sons chose me as their mom.

While all this growing up was going on, I was also trying to establish my career as a teacher. It was a busy time with us flying down the William Nicoll Highway to school. The little blond heads bobbed at the back of the car complete with a mobile breakfast. Sometimes one was still dressed in pajamas! The world had moved just a bit too fast for the brain that morning! On reflection, the world was spinning just a tad too quickly for me as well. But it still brought me joy, intrigue and a feeling of accomplishment.

A new mom....

A new mom….

I’m 45 for a moment
The sea is high…….

 The ‘Koppie’ stands proud as our bastion.

 It grounded us for many years in Lonehill as we walked up to the top and gazed out across ‘our world.’ This is when life got interesting! We juggled 2 sons actively involved in their senior years while we still had one just starting out. Waterpolo games, cricket matches and a band rehearsal were all part of the day. Somewhere in between I had to fit in my after school commitments! We adjusted after school meetings and rushed from one side of Johannesburg to the other. Life was busy but so productive. There were times when I felt stretched but I loved it! There was purpose and I felt like I made a contribution to the lives of my pupils. It was a hugely satisfying time.

'Our Koppie' in Lonehill

‘Our Koppie’ in Lonehill

 

Half time goes by

Suddenly you’re wise……

Our Koppie still stands steadfast as we enjoy the wonders that live and grow beneath it.

This was a time to question where we were at and where we were going. There were bumps and falls but we got up and carried on. We kept our family close and learnt many lessons. Forever changed by the events of our 50’s we savoured the gift of wisdom and forgiveness. But our journey was by no means over, we still had a new adventure which lay ahead….. the GROOT TREK to Canada was about to begin.

Another blink of an eye

67 is gone…….

I see no mountain! Instead we have the immense and fascinating Ontario Lake. It stretches on into the distance like a sea. It is fickle with huge waves that crash against the lighthouse and breakwater. Other days it is like a pond, still and mirror like. I watch the reflection of the Canadian geese as they fly down south for the winter. Is the lack of mountain indicative of the ‘no more mountains to climb?’

One thing is for sure….there is still so much to discover and learn.

A new country to explore...

A new country to explore…

 

Hey 15, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got a hundred years to live……

 

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The creamy heart floats to the surface in my coffee cup. It is Valentine’s Day and I notice the faces sitting huddled together. They had also come into the restaurant to get away from the cold. There were old friends catching up and couples catching a quick chat during their lunch break ‘without the children.’ There was a stern looking business man who had emails to send. He never once looked up to admire the glamorous blond who was perched on her seat opposite him. In fact he never noticed anyone and just sat with his eyes glued to his computer. Poor man, he was missing all the nuances and the ambiances of the day. He might as well have stayed in his car with a takeout coffee and the heater switched on.  The dark haired man made up for it though as he surveyed the tall brunette who had just swished through the glass doorway. She had the collar of her plaid coat pulled up and her scarf fell casually over her shoulder. She looked like someone who had just walked out of the pages of Country Life. Her eyes met his and she quickly turned and found a seat near the window. She fumbled in her handbag and eventually found what she was looking for…..her cell phone. It appeared as if she had an appointment to keep.

 

A Valentine's surprise.

A Valentine’s surprise.

 

 I am fortunate to have the time to ‘people watch’ and I love it! A corner seat in my favourite café and a latte is all I need. It is the ‘me time’ that I savour and my escape.  My observations of others, as they go about their daily lives, teaches me much about life and myself.

I twist my soft scarf around my neck and pull the fur lined hood over my head. It is time to head out into the cold streets…….back to reality.

 

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Feel the rain on your skin……..

The rain falls softly on the carpet of leaves in my back garden. The drops glisten on the reds and yellows. Nature’s blanket is a burnished patchwork quilt lovingly stitched together. These little food factories have done their job well! They have sustained the giant maple and elm trees in our backyard. It is time to return their nourishment back to the soil. Fall has begun. The leaves give us one final display with their deep maroon and orange before they drop to the soft earth.

 

The splendour of Fall....

The splendour of Fall….

Reaching for something in the distance, so close you can almost touch it….

Last night I stood on my friend’s terrace in the city. They are leaving Canada for a while to follow a job opportunity in Europe. It was time to say ‘au revoir.’ We looked over the bustling streets and enjoyed the warmth of the Indian summer. The sun was setting in the distance and the stately CN Tower presided over all her shorter subjects. It stood silhouetted against the backdrop of the orange sky. It was a panorama to behold! I turned my face to the setting sun and squeezed out the last few rays. It was not to last……the sun slid behind the frames of concrete. It was gone; the orange hue was but a lingering memory. Shelved away safely in my memory bank and to be drawn upon in those long Canadian winters! The interesting conversation and my fine glass of merlot was a comfort.

 

The CN Tower at dusk....

The view……

 Live your life with arms wide open……

It is Thanks Giving weekend and time to give thanks for our bounty. Orange pumpkins and crisp red apples are plenty.  Mothers scurry around and plan the feast for the family. Dusty recipe books are being consulted and larders are bursting with supplies. The poor ‘frozen bird’ hangs on for dear life on the shelf in the fridge! One can get nothing else to fit in there when the ‘resting turkey’ awaits its fate. It too will have its moment of splendour. It is, after all, the honoured guest at our table adorned with its white frilled legs and laced with delicious gravy.

 

" e Fagalo bench'......

” e Fagalo bench’……

No one else can speak the words on your lips……

  One realizes that with all things here in Canada, there is a time for everything. As the leaves drop to the ground, it is now the time to celebrate and rejoice in our family and friends. We have been blessed with kind neighbours and wonderful friends in this our new country. But there will also be a special place set at our table for our family and friends that are far away.

Let the sun illuminate the words that are written…..

 

 

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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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