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Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

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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Summer flowers line the streets.

They are standing on top of the high rise buildings in Toronto today in search of the sun! Even the breakfast television anchor man was perched on some skyscraper, as he babbled on about the local news. The Torontonians are in ‘summer fever’ mode and the excitement is tangible.

Outside patio furniture is being dusted off and carried out so that it can catch the first rays of summer. I catch the flash of turquoise, cerise pink and yellow in the shop windows to tempt me. Restaurants are competing for clientele and some have even added hanging baskets of cascading geraniums to their outdoor rooms. Graceful umbrellas extend their arms out and create peaceful havens in the hustle and bustle of the city. Newspapers abound with fliers advertising all that is related to summer. As I enjoy my cappuccino at my local café, I overhear a couple discuss their escape up to ‘cottage country’ this weekend. There will be a mass exodus of boats, fishing gear and summer revelers as they enjoy a long weekend.

Monday is a public holiday as Canadians still celebrate 24 May as Queen Victoria’s birthday. We are rather low on the public holidays here as we only have about 6 a year. So thank goodness for Queen Victoria and the colonies! It all began with 5000 residents way back in 1854. They sang ‘Happy Birthday’ outside Government House in Toronto and the queen liked this so much that she declared it a public holiday. Over the years the celebrations have varied from the usual rush north to the cottage, athletic competitions, firework displays, gun salutes, carnivals and the good old barbeque.

We are going to fall into the latter and I have bought the boerewors from the South African shop and a few ‘lamsvleis sjoppies’. The chops are from New Zealand but I am sure we will still pick up on the flavour. So on Monday we are going to light up our braai. We will join in with our neighbours and friends and toast Queen Victoria with a fine glass of South African red in one hand and a piece of boerewors in the other…… here’s to SUMMER.

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Toronto in the distance

 

 

The ‘silver city skies’ glisten as I gaze across at the city of Toronto in the morning light. The towering buildings quiver in the sun as they stretch upwards. The pulse of the city is tangible even at this distance and reverberates across the calm waters. It beckons me and ‘is asking for the taking’ as I conjure up another visit of exploration. Maybe this time it will be the antique shops or another graceful old heritage home. An aeroplane takes off from the Island and leaves its plume across the sky. I cast my eyes back along the shore and watch the water lap at my feet as if to transfer this energy straight from the source.

It is hard to imagine that this lake has a shoreline of over 1000 kilometres.  It is like a huge stretch of sea! Today it even smells like one and I gather up the small mussel shells in the sand of this manmade beach. Rounded pebbles that have been smoothed away over time knock up against the rocks. I pick one up and skim it across the mirrored lake; it ripples and sinks down….. far down. In some places it may be as deep as 244 metres.  Josh peers over the edge for the proverbial fish. He has taken a shine to the sport as he has no African Hyrax to taunt anymore. He gazes into the mirrored water and leaps at his innocent victims. His lack of success keeps his interest fired and continues to chase up and down peering into the depths from all angles. This determination will surely pay dividends and allow him to land one soon!

The stillness is suddenly interrupted by the sound of progress. Another condominium is going up nearby and a bulldozer is gnarling away at the earth. As it piles the broken ground into a waiting truck, a new basement is being formed. This will park more cars, house more people and create the opportunity for more eyes to enjoy this vista of the city.
I know that I have to ‘run with the new.’

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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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I am grateful today……..

My constant companion, Josh.


 

1.For a warm coat, I needed it in my walk around the city of Toronto   today with temperatures and the chill factor of minus 10.

2. For the quick, warm and comfortable ride on the go-train into the city. No sitting in the traffic for me!

3. For the sustenance of a plate of steaming hot butternut soup made from scratch in a lovely restaurant in The Distillery District.

4. For being able to keep walking for so long today in the city without feeling the pain of the sciatica in my leg. Old age is creeping in!

5. For the positive response that Bryan has received with his job interviews in Toronto.

6. For Philip’s energy and drive with his demanding job here.

7. For having the privilege of being able to be a ‘stay at home mom’ for the first time in my life. I now have time to play!

8. For being able to watch David grow into his own person. It is not easy to have 2 brothers precede you.

9. For David making the senior rugby squad, he has worked so hard to be considered for this. Yes, they do play rugby here!

10. For my friends and family, who even with their busy lives, still keep in touch with me on a regular basis. Contact with home makes my heart sing!

11. For the job offer made to me by a school in SA. This made me realize that I am still remembered and considered for my skill as a teacher even though I am no longer there.

12. For the message from a past pupil on Facebook. It is special to know that the connections you made with young people are still relevant.

13. For my furry child, Josh, he is such an enthusiastic companion and has such a zest for life.

14. For my improving vision that allows me to take in the beauty of my surroundings on my daily walks.

15. For the first buds that have appeared on the shrubs in my garden. Spring is on its way!

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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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Christmas is all about spending time with family and friends and with all our traditions we create those warm memories. The spruce tree has been adorned with ribbons and baubles and lights twinkle from the balcony, front door and the roof. The bokkie (reindeer) stands amongst his forest of lights at the front door and there is no mistaking that this house is definitely going to be celebrating Christmas. There is excitement in the air as plans are made, presents are wrapped and the Christmas spices float through the air.

Josh whines at the front door and I realize that it is time for his daily trot around the block and the evening ritual of chasing squirrels.

The bulldozer growled and squealed as it pushed its way through the rubble. This was someone’s house that was being knocked down and it was making way for progress with a modern one that would soon be built in its place. The planks of wood protested and creaked as they were shoved into the awaiting truck, there was nothing graceful about this old house meeting its demise. The demolition was now complete and this once quant, cottage home was now piled up on the back of a truck. I wondered how many happy memories had been made there, how many family Christmases had been spent around the dining room table and how many bright -eyed grandchildren had been entertained with stories in front of the fire. Sadly these were all but memories now and hopefully there were people who would hold them dear. Josh tugged at my arm as he was growing impatient and as I watched the truck trundle down the road, I thought of the one consolation: This wooden house would once more return to the earth on some landfill and new trees would grow from the nutrients left behind and new houses would be built and new memories made.

As the first few snow flakes fall, our family will gather at Maison de Morkel and new memories of our first Canadian Christmas with its rich eclectic blend of traditions will be created. But underneath it all, will be the solid foundation of experiences of Christmases in Africa.

Bokkie

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