Posts Tagged ‘Oakville’

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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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!






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The soft flakes waft over us as we pull our fur hoods closer to keep out the chill. I turn my face towards the soft caress of Mother Nature…I love the feeling of falling snow especially when you are dressed in snug attire. 

Baby it's cold out there!

Baby it’s cold out there!

The front doors are the first to beckon us in with their inventive displays. Vintage wooden skis, bright red mitts and ice skates are expertly placed with gleaming ornaments. They serve to wet our creative appetites as we brave the elements in the queues outside. We are out in the cold weather and are visiting the open Christmas houses for charity with a group of kindred spirits.

Eventually the wooden door creaks open and the magical world of Christmas is there to greet us. The wait was worth it! As I step inside, the inner child is evoked and I stand in awe for a few moments…….

The aroma of fresh cedar wreaths and pine tree swags fills my breath. I slip off my boots and notice the crackling fire. Oh to just sit a while next to the warmth! Cozy throws have been strategically placed to lure one closer. All too soon the spectacle of the gleaming Christmas tree, all adorned in white and silver, distracts me. The lights twinkle and reflect the beauty and magnificence of a ‘real tree.’ Each ornament especially chosen reflects the owner’s personality and their nostalgia of bygone Christmases. I waft through as if in a trance…..arrays of delicious colourful cookies tempt me and the aromas of cinnamon and cloves warm the cockles of my heart. The gleaming ornaments shine, lights sparkle and wreaths dangle from tartan ribbons. Christmas is here to enchant us!


The day sped by and we eventually peaked into 6 of the 10 houses. I could not wait to get home to apply some of the effects that had been so artistically created. 

That evening, as I gently wove my garland around the staircase, I could not help but reflect on our wonderful African Christmases that our group had once had back in South Africa. One thing is for sure if the spirit of Christmas is there, it does not matter where you celebrate! A wonderful Christmas to all of my family and friends wherever you might be…..

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(Written by Paul Mc Cartney while on retreat in India.)


Our early morning visitor.


It was pitch dark outside and I had trundled downstairs to start the morning breakfast routine for the family. This included all the packed lunches which were tailor made to suit the individual needs. These boys are spoilt! Then I began the breakfast which consisted of the serving up of the a la carte menu! They all seem to enjoy different things in the morning. Those that are building muscles want protein and bulk and those that are keeping a check on the waist line prefer fruit and oats.

My ‘morning brain’ was just getting my head around all the ‘needs’ when there was an enormous crash from the deck. I went out to investigate and came across Josh, our Jack Russell, with his jaws firmly clenched around the neck of a juvenile raccoon. There was a cacophony of hissing, squealing and growling and added to that were my screams for assistance from my household of men. I grabbed Josh’s tail and pulled, but all my screams and pleading fell on deaf ears. The encounter with said raccoon had evoked the primeval instinct in him. I might as well sing the Canadian National Anthem for the effect that I was having on him! I am sure he was taken back to similar skirmishes with the rock hyrax in Africa. Except that this furry little rodent usually came off second best. I had a feeling that this was not to be the case with the not so friendly Canadian raccoon.

I had involved myself in dogfight once before between a Labrador and a Staffordshire terrier. An onlooker, who considered themselves to be an authority on dogfights, had given me the following advice on dispersing two warring parties: Stick your finger up the dominant dog’s backside. The thought made me cringe but I was desperate to end this tussle. I edged my way round, aimed and stuck the peter pointer into Josh’s ‘poephol’. He gave a growl but held firm. I screamed once more for back up. The ‘royal marines’ came running down the stairs in a state of undress armed with the pepper grinder and a jug of water. They clobbered the two culprits and eventually prized them apart from each other. The raccoon did a flying leap off the deck and Josh was left there with his jaws quivering.

He bravely bore his war wounds of a scratched eye and torn ear and would have to endure the humiliation of an unfinished battle. I on the other hand, had the cleanest finger in Oakville!



Josh contemplates his next move!


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Union Station, Toronto.

It was after midnight and we had had a night in the city with friends.
There had been much laughter and plenty of red wine consumed. We screamed around the corner and up 3 flights of stairs to the awaiting train to Oakville. My legs felt like lead as I lifted my high heeled boots up the steep steps. All the indulgence and folly played havoc with my steadfast trot.
“I would like to meet the MAN who designed this station! No woman in her right mind would have conjured up this 3 tiered climb to be completed at a furious pace.”
I was later to learn that it was in fact designed by a group of male architects from Montreal and Toronto. I knew it!
When the Prince of Wales had opened Union Station in 1927, he had apparently said: You build your stations like we build our cathedrals.
I suppose that was meant to be a compliment, except that cathedrals and stations have very different purposes. One is visited with reverence and a sense of stillness in us. The other is usually with our hearts pounding in our chests, while our eyes flash over the train schedule searching for the correct platform. This is only displayed minutes before the train departs. Once up, all passengers surge forward and  the aortas immediately pump into action.
The haunting hoot signaled the departure of the Go Train and we sit back and sigh. A call of nature demands that I find the restroom. I stumble up and spot it behind a staircase on the upper level. I maneuvered myself into the small space and contemplated the toilet seat. It did not appear to have seen any disinfectant for quite some time so I decided to perch over it. The train swayed back and forth and I concentrated on the correct position to do the deed. My wobbly legs, that had been weakened by my night of folly and the recent clamber, did little to stabilize me. Eventually the mission was completed and I could sit back and close my eyes for the rest of the trip home.
The following week a friend and I decided to have a day in the big city to view a garden show. Spring was in the air and we were both making plans for our new gardens that we had in our care. We hurriedly made it down to the station but there was no parking. We decided that each should be assigned a duty……you park the car and I will buy the tickets. I fumbled for my purse; we had 5 minutes till the next train. Tickets were bought and I anxiously awaited the arrival of my companion. I scanned the faces but recognized no one. The train rolled into the station and still no friend. The 5 minute wait felt like 30 and the train trundled off. What do I do now? The next train is a whole hour from now! But it was about to get worse.  My quick thinking and somewhat harassed friend had actually jumped on the last train. I was left clutching the tickets! She thought that I had also hopped on board.
An hour wait ensued before I could embark on the journey once more and meet up with her further down along the line. It was worth it, as we both got to enjoy a read of the morning papers in the blazing March sun while we waited for our next ride. We did get to drink in the splendours of the spring flowers at the show too!

Spring is in the air!

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As I went speeding down through the back streets of Oakville today listening to the directions of my satellite navigation, I realized once again how fortunate I am to live with a whole house full of men. Oh yes, they drive me crazy with all their idiocentricities and the demands they make, but then they often chant back at me: “Mom, you are no shrinking violet either.”


The wet snow is slushy and I reach for the ‘snow button’ which is another added extra that was a requisition for mom’s car. This prevents skidding in slippery conditions and the knowledgeable men decided that this was a definite for the vehicle that I would be driving.  Anyone would think that I scream around town at break neck speed! Maybe they have an inkling of an idea, as my husband takes great delight in relating a few stories from my youth. I would apparently ‘dice’ him down the main road in Cape Town in my Austin mini. He would watch me out of the corner of his eye from his powerful Alfa Giulietta, knowing full well that he could so easily overtake me. But he always let me shoot in front of him. This race would often include a tight corner with my vehicle on 2 wheels and some screeching of brakes. It was such fun! These are memories that I have chosen not to store but he seems to remember the intricate details!

 Need I say that I am older and wiser and keen to stay on the right side of the law here in Canada. It has taken me considerable effort to acquire my driver’s license and I definitely intend keeping that piece of paper, as tearing around the streets on my bicycle in the snow is not my idea of fun.


 I pull the car back into the garage and notice the garbage bins that have been left on the curb. They are greasy and wet. I reluctantly drag them into their designated position outside the mudroom. The wise old saying comes to mind….what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.


It's a man's life!

Curb duty

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The Michael Bublé CD is blaring in my car as I make my way through the lanes down to Oakville town. I have been conjuring up ideas for a few special culinary delights to surprise my household and I thought of going with a ‘Moose” theme evening. I found the appropriate wine bottle clad with a colossal moose head and the ‘moosedrol’ chocolates can suffice as a desert. Now all I have to do is find the moose venison at our local butcher in Oakville. My shopping list is all planned and I am reminded that I have a coffee date with a South African friend who I met on a ‘South Africans in Toronto’ website. Who would have ever thought that I would meet people in this way? But being a stranger in town one has to resort to drastic measures!

My bokkie antlers are perched on the car and I have dressed in my reindeer stockings just to complete the whole Christmas theme. My son and his wife arrive for a visit from South Africa tomorrow, so we thought we should deck the halls and the car too just to create the atmosphere. Today I am going to have a practice run. The strange thing is, although I feel like an idiot in my Christmas attire and my yuletide car, no one bats an eyelid.  Canadians embrace the season with such zeal and go all out over this time.  In fact we have decided that we definitely have to acquire a few more Christmas lights as our display is quite conservative this year. But wait for it, I will hit the New Year sales and buy up all the bargains and hopefully Maison de Morkel will shine even brighter next year.

Josh rides high on his antler chariot

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