Posts Tagged ‘South Africans’

I caught a vision of you
I peeped into your room and there you were. Sitting at the tangled mass of wires and electronic equipment that stood piled up on your desk. This was hallowed ground and a place where I did not venture unless I was invited. After all he was my big brother and someone who I looked up to as a child.
I’d always wanted me to follow where you walked.
The call came out loud and strong, “ZS1MJ…….calling ZS1MJ.” I sqeezed through the opening and made my way across the room to the voice beaming from the speaker. My brother was a HAM radio enthusiast, a hobby which he began as a young man. This was before the internet boom and when radio played a huge part in our entertainment and leisure. I edged closer and he gestured towards a chair. I was always thrilled to be part of this action and to be able to connect with him in this manner. I was so much younger than him and I was still in my doll- playing phase. Hence the lack of common interest! It fascinated me as he spoke to people all over Africa. He even assisted in relaying messages during a disastrous flood in the arid Karoo in South Africa, when all normal forms of communication had broken down. Some stranded farmers were able to get messages out via their shortwave radios. My brother picked up these calls for help and passed them on to the relevant authorities.
The sand it falls away into the hour glass.
My interest in the radio activities was soon to change direction as I moved into adolescence. There was an upbeat radio programme that used to beam out from Mozambique. It was known as LM radio and those of you that are old enough would remember it! It played all the magnificent 1970’s music late into the night. Before my brother moved away to go to university, he set me with a huge old submarine valve radio which was able to pick up this station loud and clear. I still recall the big black box with the name HALICRAFTER emblazoned across the front. My favourite for the week was The Top 20 programme. The problem was that it went on till the wee hours on a Sunday night. It called for ingenious methods so that I could break my bedtime curfew.

My brother with me on the end.

My big brother…..

The years passed and we went our different ways as young families do, but he was always there. We kept in touch even after he made a move over to the United States with his then young family. We did manage to catch up on visits back to South Africa and we made the trip over a few times too.
We may have built a life away in other towns. But blood is thicker than the water in the ground.
Little did I realise that we would make that trans Atlantic move too but ours was to Canada. He was a pillar of strength especially in those early years when everything was so new. He had walked that road with his own family.
Some things in life were made to last, like brother when I see you, no time has passed.
So today I want to wish and honour you. May you continue to grow as I know you will…..there are not too many people who go back to university in their 60s to get their Masters Degree and who read and widely as you do. I am proud to have you as my brother.
Happy birthday!

Out exploring in Toronto with my Boet....

Out exploring in Toronto with my Boet….

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Yeehaa! I was hurtling down a snow downhill slope tucked into a little rubber tyre. I twisted and whirled down the slippery slope and wondered why on earth I was subjecting myself to this… for the sheer exhilaration and the fun of it!

We had had our first reasonable snowfall and we headed out to see the countryside. The conifers were all touched with a soft cascade of white powder just like we see on a Christmas card and the bare deciduous trees had icicles hanging from their branches. The icy, grey shapes silhouetted against the bright sky like a scene from the movie ‘Twilight.’

We were glad to have some temporary respite in our warm car.


As we made our way to the ski slope, we spotted enthusiastic children who had made their first snowman of the season and others that had dusted off their snow kit and braved the outdoors for a bit of fresh air. We donned our newly acquired ‘snow pant’, ripped labels off thick gloves and beanies and headed out to the slopes. We were clearly the new kids on the block! Although the newbies, we soon got the hang of running up the slope and careering like a bat out of hell down the runway on our rubber chariots. We yelled out like kids as we whistled our way over the slippery surface, twirled over the bumps and finally came to a rest against the snow safety barrier. I looked around and realized that our time was up. We had been running up and down the slopes for nearly 2 hours! A cup of warm tea (or something stronger) and some relaxation were definitely called for.


So we need to preserve these happy recollections in our memory bank as they will need to be recalled when we are heaving snow off the driveway. According to local knowledge, it can become quite tedious. Thank goodness we are still the NEW KIDS on the block.

A second childhood

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What the …… is going on? What is all this noise coming from the kitchen, it is 3.30 am!


Now don’t get me wrong, I love my sons but sometimes living with them can get a bit much. The other evening my middle son decided to have, what is commonly known in South Africa, a ‘sitvas’. This is usually when a few men get together and hang out, shoot the breeze and usually consume a bit of alcohol. It was not the usual drink of choice, which is known as ‘brandewyn’, but was some golden old Canadian whiskey. I heard the low voices at about 2am and the churning of the ice crusher in the kitchen. I turned over and went back to sleep as I was not about to spoil their fun. As I struggled to get back to dreamland I tried to imagine the topics of discussions that men cover in these wee hours. By 3.30am they had still not exhausted them so the drinks needed to be recharged. This was so that the conversation could continue to flow and with that the ice machine was kicked back into action. Ice tumbled down on the floor and the crash reverberated through the wooden house. I jumped up and raced downstairs only to be met by a very bewildered male guest standing with his glass at the ice machine. Need I say that my language was far from ladylike and the poor recipient of my wrath went pale around the gills. I somehow don’t think that Canadian mothers go ‘bossies’ here, maybe it is to do with equal rights or some such thing. But this lady threw her toys right out of her cot and onto the kitchen floor.

The wonderful thing about men is they have such short term memories and by the next day, when they had surfaced, all had been forgotten and it was probably just written down in history as one of mom’s bad days.

So lots of patience is required by ‘the lady of this house’ and every now and again I run my bath right up to my neck, pour in loads of bubble bath and just wallow in the glorious warm water. When I jump out I put on lashings of French perfume….just to remind myself that I am a GIRL.

The regmaker does the trick!

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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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Josh on the clean front porch!


The tell tale sign of a ladder at the side of the house informed me that something was up! Legs dangled over the side as rears pointed skywards. My men were perched precariously on the edge of the roof. Ok, so now what? The task in hand was to remove all leaves from the gutters otherwise the snow would push moisture into the house. A cold house at minus 20 degrees is one thing, but a wet one ….. I don’t even want to contemplate it!


The masterminds had grabbed a metal plant stake and were scraping out bunches of wet leaves from the gutters. You need to remember that these Canadian houses are 3 stories high and have a steep pitched roof. Each stroke caused them to wobble tenuously and I wondered if these two engineering brains could not come up with a safer plan. They were not about to be coaxed down either so I had to devise my own plan B in case one of them were to topple off the edge. The thought of it sent a shudder down my spine. They enjoyed my concern and proceeded to do various attics to tease me. Unrelenting they carried on and sodden wet leaves came flying over the edge. My recently swept front porch was a sea of brown sludge and Josh whimpered as another leaf bomb flew past his face. He had been tied up against the railings to watch the passing parade as he is finding all the indoor activities far too tiresome. As an action man himself, he would have far preferred to be part of the roof team. But I was not about to have the dog bounding around up there too!


Little did we know but our roof attics were being watched by our neighbours. They were obviously taking great delight in the activities on the roof and one of them, a South African, decided to come to the rescue. He came racing across the street with a large piece of apparatus which I was to learn was a gas leaf blower. One strong tug and the engine kicked in, this workhorse was bound to make a difference. The house vibrated and the sound permeated every room as this little gem went to work Leaves flew everywhere including over our neighbour’s car but the mission was accomplished. We now have clean gutters and I still have all the men in my house in tact. We have also learnt a bit more about the way things are done here in Canada.

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