Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘South African’

I stood in the kitchen this morning and shouted at my new Echo Dot with a croaky morning voice. I needed to get the first sitting of breakfast going for my early morning skiers and my son who was returning back to work. Music and a bit of news in the morning really gets me going and this ‘little black apparatus’ was not about to oblige. I leaned and enunciated my words. This is often needed as my South African accent gets in the way of technology here in North America. I tried again and rolled out my best American accent that I could muster at 6am in the morning!

OK Google! Ok Google!

Why was this ….. machine not responding? Then I realised that I had my commands mixed up. Jeff Bezos of Amazon would not have been pleased with me as I was confusing my software system service providers.

Alexa, give me the latest news report?

“Here is the latest weather and news report for the Lonsdale area.”

Yes, it worked! I could now go into mommy mode whilst turning out a fine spread for my early risers.

Early morning skiers….

As with many of you, we have had all our children and grandchildren home over the holidays. Technology and getting mom and dad up to speed with the latest technology is all part of this visit. The furnace programme has been updated and reset, the fireplace switch is now remote and Alexa is installed in the kitchen. So I have the world at my finger tips and Big Brother is surely watching me! Ha! Ha! Who knows what he will learn?

Part of the technology update included hitting the Black Friday sales and renewing our ancient and faulty kitchen appliances. I decided to sell the old ones rather than let them end up in a landfill. They appeared on Craigslist for a bargain price and were all sold within days. What can I say? I have hidden talents! Was it the artistic photos of their gleaming stainless steel finish or the persuasive wording of the advert? Who knows? But at least they would whirr away in someone else’s kitchen for a while longer.

A sad farewell to our old fridge….

Along with the selling and buying of the appliances came the dilemma of getting them up and down our 3 flights of stairs to our house in the forest. The microwave, dishwasher and oven were all relatively light so that was easy. But when the new fridge arrived, the delivery guys took one look at the narrow and steep access and refused to help us. We had a problem that had to be solved. I had a house full and no fridge. But it was easier than I could have imagined.

We have a saying in South Africa: ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan. This translated means a farmer always makes a plan. In true form my son pulled his truck up next to the garage in front of the slope down to the house. They tied a sturdy rope onto the truck and around the new fridge. He pulled on his rugby boots for grip and they were all set. They slowly lowered the fridge down along the slope. I stood and watched and tried to contain my laughter and feelings of trepidation. What if this new fridge slipped and careered off into the river?

The rope is attached and away we go….

It did not……she stands proud in her new appointed place in my kitchen. The beers are cold and the steak is thawed and on the barbeque.  Soft sounds filtrate from the kitchen as Alexa serenades us with her latest playlist.

A very happy 2018!

But is was not all about technology, there was old fashioned fun too!

For the last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. T.S. Eliot.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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 »

Canadian flies are monstrous! South Africans would refer to them as ‘brommers!’ As the weather warms up their deep drone can be heard as they lurk at any open door or window. They wait patiently ready to dart into the delights of your home or office. Cooking in the kitchen or opening up your lunch sends shock waves out to all the local chommie brommers. Their over sensitive olfactory system zones into the aroma and draws them in like moths to a light at night. It is their way of getting onto their very own social media. Their status would read something like this………Grub’s up boys!

The Canadian Brommer

The Canadian ‘Brommer’

Once inside you are left with a few options to rid yourself of these domestic invaders. One being a quick flick of the wrist which would result in the demise of the noisy invertebrate. This does not go down too well with the Greenies and more squeamish amongst us. Trust me, squashed insect inners between your fingers does not do much for the appetite. But there is an advantage of using this method of capture…. namely it is easy to execute. The reason being is that these members of the Canuck insect clan are slow movers. It must have something to do with the adaptations to the threats that face them in Canada. They are not exactly fighting off Brown Bears! Now if they were anything like their South African brothers it would be a whole different story. Their acutely well-trained compound eyes would observe the said hand long before it reaches the target.
The second option is well known amongst our local fisherman where the salmon run free and wild. Catch and release is a piece of pie to implement with these lumbering locals. The brommers down south in Africa have trained us newbies well. It requires stealth and method to catch these ‘boytjies.’ You need to creep up on them with an open hand. The trick is to keep the hand level and low. Then raise your hands just above them to catch the buzzing invader in flight. Make your way to the door with your prize firmly clenched in your hand and release. The inner Greenie is left content with no fatalities.

Canadian mosquito

Canadian mosquito

Now when it comes to mosquitoes, don’t mess with these Canadian buzzers. They thrive on or near the 250 000 lakes that are part of the picturesque landscape here in Ontario. Their bite is painless. But wait for it, there is worse to come. This enables them to discreetly strike and suck your blood and then disappear like thieves into the darkness. Within hours red, itchy welts appear. Oh the itch drives one wild! There have been times, while suffering from the affliction of mosquito bites, I have wished for the ‘supplity’ of a dog. Ah…….to just be able to reach that spot. But that is not the worst thing about these little stripy devils. The burn and crawling skin continues for weeks. The memory of the weekend away at the cottage is long gone but the itch lingers.

Cottage Country

Cottage Country

So although this might seem trivial. It goes to show that comparisons are something we all do. As newcomers it is a way of absorbing change ….we observe the differences and similarities and process our new environment. Just wish the mozzies would lay off me as I earned my stripes with their African cousins!

Read Full Post »

As this is my 100th blog entry I am going to allow myself to indulge a bit……

From the magazine ‘The Neighbours of Olde Oakville”

 

The South African Experience in the Great White North: Meet Anne Morkel

Mag2

 

Some journeys are measured in time, like marriage, careers, and parenthood. Some journeys are measured in accomplishment, like owning your home and building a community reputation. Then there are the good old-fashioned journeys measured in globetrotting distance. Anne Morkel has taken all three, the latter her most recent. The South African ex-pat moved with her husband Phillip and two youngest sons Bryan, 27, and David, 18, to Oakville in 2011, and the journey has been one of cultural idiosyncrasy, personal, and professional exploration. She reflects, “We chose this, and we came to stay. If you come to another country, you have to make this your home. You can’t live with one foot in one country, and one in the other.”

The decision to leave her home, including family and friends, was not an easy one. But when Phillip was offered, in Anne’s words, the “most amazing job offer,” the Morkels knew they had to seize the opportunity. Though it has proved to be a creative period of what Anne calls “disruptive innovation,” the choice to leave South Africa meant leaving much of their lives behind. Anne had a hard-earned reputation in her community as a teacher of Science, Life Skills, and Afrikaans. Living in a new community without it was a humbling experience, as Anne shares, “Not that I was arrogant, but I had a reputation and profession. I was a well-known, integral, functioning and useful individual. There’s an adjustment process.”

Coming to Canada was an opportunity to build that reputation again, and Anne certainly has, adding, “It’s been humbling, but exciting. The process has been energizing. Canada allowed me to be my own person. It’s wonderful… and quite frightening!”

When the Morkels arrived in Canada, there was a bit of a honeymoon period. “The first three months were like we were on holiday!” she laughs. That holiday soon ended, and a little bit of homesickness set in, especially when winter hit. One of the only ways to get through that shift was to lean on her South African roots. Says Anne, “I have a lot of respect for Canadians, for Canadian resilience. It’s not an easy life. South Africans are tough in the sense that we’ve had to cope with different things. We come equipped with a strength of character.”

To deal with the challenges of a new country and new landscape (both physical and metaphorical) Anne looked for little bits of home where she could. “You buy stupid things like crisps because those are the things you miss,” she adds, laughing. But beyond that, Anne needed to find where she belonged in her new community. “You learn to survive. I learned to become grateful for friends and warmth, and that we’ve been accepted. We didn’t expect that. We didn’t know what the reception would be like.” 

Ever the professional, once Anne got her bearings, she began seeking new ways to put her skills to work. Her philosophy was simple, “You need to get out there and make your mark. You have to find something to fill that void,” and so she pursued a talent that lent itself perfectly to her big move: writing. She began as a travel writer, documenting her move with entries and photos (with the occasional cameo from Josh, their chipper and sprightly Jack Russell!) on her blog that underscored the enormous journey from country to country, and culture to culture.

Anne continued writing her blog and chronicling her time in Canada, and eventually caught the eye of Eve Hemming, a South African writer who was compiling an anthology of South African ex-pat writer’s work. Much to her family’s great pride and esteem, two of Anne’s pieces can now be found in Eve Hemming’s book: 

 Scatterlings: A tapestry of Afri-Expat Tales.

When she isn’t writing, Anne is out enjoying everything Oakville has to offer. Whether it’s going for a walk or trying skiing, or simply enjoying her new neighbourhood, she takes an active role in her new life and has absolutely no time for complaining. She states quite emphatically that winter is “A little long, but you have to get on with it! Oakville is lovely, there are a lot of trees, and the people are so receptive.”

As for Morkel family goals, Anne and Phillip are still waiting to get their oldest son, John, 30, to Canada. Middle son Bryan is pursuing his Professional Engineer Status, and David is just finishing school. Anne adds, “It’s not easy to move a 15-year-old, but now he’s playing sports he’s never played before and he’s going to the UK with his Rugby team.”

Next up for Anne will be taking her own goals off of hold and getting back to achieving them, perhaps even setting new ones as she says, “Now I’m ready to fly.”

 

My famous rusks...

My famous rusks…

 

 

Read Full Post »

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…….

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

IMAG0626_1_1_1

‘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.

 

Read Full Post »

The ego was still intacked here!

The ego was still intact here!

Christmas sparkle!

Christmas sparkle!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR2WYVWI65M  

 My world is changing……      

The tinsel has lost some of its sparkle and there are baubles lying around the bottom of the Christmas tree. It is time to remove the wreaths from the staircase and to toss the tree out in the road for collection. There has been laughter, good food and friends and we have indulged in all that is Christmas.  So ‘after this Lord Mayor’s Show’ there certainly needs to be a clean up cart! This involves the unraveling and packing up of all things Christmas.Our second Christmas in Canada has been and gone…..

I know I have found you…….

  I begin by about sorting through the decorations and packing them into boxes. I always add a few to the collection each year. The camels from Dubai, the hand crafted angels from South Africa and the wooden raccoons from this Canadian Christmas. They all remind me of the Yuletides past. There are wreaths to unravel from the front door and all the Christmas lights around the house too. This ‘packing away ritual’ used to evoke pensive thoughts as I contemplated the end of the festivities. Instead, as I systemically place each shiny bauble back, I allow myself the time to indulge in the happy moments of the last few weeks. It is almost as if I have to put them ‘all to bed’ so that I can start the new chapter. All too quickly the New Year will be staring me in the face and I will get sucked into the hustle and bustle of every day life.

You never fade away……

The big snow dump has been part of this Christmas too and our surrounds have been transformed into a winter wonderland. Kids are out on their toboggans and young and old delight in the white covering.  Temperatures have dropped significantly and some brave souls even took part in the polar bear swim in the Ontario Lake! Definitely not my cup of tea! I landed up the other day next to the lake on my backside ‘met bene in die lug!’ The slippery snow got the better of me! It left me with a bruised ego and an aching rear end! So I have come to realize the merit of the ‘penguin walk.’ This unflattering geriatric gait allows you to tackle a slippery pathway with ease. Although I think I need to add some ski poles to the mix for added stability.

It will feel like Christmas all the time……

The boxes are packed and stored away for another year. But all is not lost! Christmas will have to linger in the Morkel household for a little while longer. It is just too cold to get up on the roof to remove all our Christmas lights. They are going to have to twinkle for a couple more weeks. At least they will let us down gently……….

The Joy of Christmas stays inside us …..

 


 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »