July, Month of Celebration

“You are heroes, and a book should be written about each one of you,” said Windsor businessman, Bill Tepperman addressing the newly inducted group of immigrants from various corners of the globe. The year was 1985, the occasion our citizenship ceremony as we stood among other immigrants in our final step to Canadian citizenship. Mr. Tepperman’s words certainly rang true for me, foreshadowing the release of my memoir, An Immoral Proposal, last November.Canadian Citizenship Ceremony

After we left South Africa in 1975, there was no turning back. Even though we got married in England, the South African apartheid government didn’t recognize our marriage. With South African passports we couldn’t return to our birthplace – we were virtually stateless.
July 1, Canada Day, is the equivalent of America’s 4th July. I treasure my Canadian citizenship as Canada accepted me unconditionally. When I became a Canadian citizen, I was required to turn in my South African passport and surrender my nationality, which I was more than happy to do. South Africa, under apartheid, had denied me the most basic human rights and freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of movement and the right to vote.

Addressing us new citizens with passion, Judge Kasurak, herself an immigrant, said words to the effect, “You are all Canadian citizens and have the same rights as Canadian-born citizens. You are not not second-class because you were born elsewhere, or because of your skin colour or religious beliefs. What a ceremony it was. Dignitaries right from the Ontario Lieutenant Governor-General down to the Windsor, mayor and council representatives graced the occasion with their presence. Judge Kasurak, at the end of the application interviewing process, chose my very own Dearly Beloved to deliver the address on behalf of the immigrant inductees. He really did me proud that day.

Here in North America, July is about barbeques, strawberries and patriotism. It was my honour and joy to host my ladies social group, The Zoomerangs, for our Canada Day celebration. My big, languid willow nested thirty of us donned in red and white in its shade like a hen with her chicks. After a hearty potluck feast, we spent the day in fun and games including a scavenger hunt till it was tea and dessert time for my pièce de résistance, my patriotic maple leaf flag cake.Canada Cake (1024x734)

This is my segue into my featured recipe, Strawberry Fool. I used to call it strawberry mousse till someone pointed out that a mousse is technically a savoury or sweet dish into which whipped cream is folded resulting in a light and fluffy texture. Well, because mine has jelly in it, I call it a fool – fooling people thinking it’s a mousse! Many North Americans would probably regard it as a Jell-O salad much to the perplexity and consternation of us schooled in the far-flung British colonies. Sorry, I couldn’t find a Strawberry Fool photo in my food file mainly because the dessert was so good and had been gobbled up by the time I thought to take the photo. I’ve got one of this exact recipe but made with raspberries and equally yummy.

Speaking about food (am I making your mouth water?) I am working on an e-recipe book featuring some of the recipes I’ve posted in the newsletters over these past months as well as some other made-from-scratch creations. I hope to have it published hopefully by end of October. So watch this space!

April Was a Blur

GO Train

The GO Train (Toronto)

I spent most of April on a flurry of trains, boats, planes and taxis. In fact, my grandchildren think my home is at the airport. We’ve adopted Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” as our theme song. At any rate, taking our cue from the geese at the end of March we flew back to Canada from our winter-getaway in Austin, Texas. Our next act was that of distance grand parenting and all it involves when you live hundreds of miles apart from your dear ones.

We unpacked the big suitcase and re-packed the carry-ons before we flew to Regina, Saskatchewan on April 6 for a visit with our grandchildren (and their parents too). It’s always joyous (and exhausting) to be with our grand girl, Magdalena, four-going-on-forty-four with boundless energy and an ultra-imaginative brain that’s always creating. At four and a half she can write her name and read a bit. She directs plays, dresses me up in tulle and feathers and gives me my lines to perform for the after-dinner audience in the living room. Her two-year old brother, forever jumping and wriggling, doesn’t seem to mind being bossed around by big sister. Parting is such sweet sorrow after a week of playing fairy godmother and Mary Poppins rolled in one in Magdalena’s Kingdom. Distance grand parenting is yet another component of my transient life. But when we’re together, we have a ball.carousel

After seven days, it was up, up and away back to Ontario, unpacking and re-packing the carry-ons and this time taking the taxi (that cut it very close) for the GO bus to take us to the GO-train bound for downtown Toronto where we stayed overnight at the Fairmont Hotel (formerly The Royal York). And a very pleasant stay it was too. Next morning we caught the shuttle to Billy Bishop Airport from Toronto Island – a real pain to get to; and when you get there you have two more hurdles to negotiate. First the five-minute ferry ride and then the check-in. (They are in the process of building a passenger tunnel to dispense with this silly ferry nuisance.)

The one-hour flight from Toronto to Newark, New Jersey was uneventful and Easter Sunday was filled with hope of spring and renewal. The customs officer waved me through when I explained that the food items on my declaration form were chocolate Easter bunnies for my grandchildren. In Brooklyn, our world was once again transformed into one of princesses and princes and castles – this time in the company of Anna, Elsa, Hans, Olaf and the gang of Frozen, a la Disney.

Our three granddaughters aged five, three and one kept us hopping – there were visits to parks, playgrounds, zoos, carousels and the cinema to see Rio 2. Phoebe, my three-and- a-half-year-old tiddlywink knew how to tug my heartstrings when she said, “I wish you didn’t have to leave, Oumi.” Alas, all good things must come to an end.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur traverse home on Sunday morning began with a taxi ride to the airport, up the escalator, shuffling and semi-disrobing through airport security, then waiting for 45 minutes to get through the Canadian immigration line at Billy Bishop airport on account of two officers to process three plane loads of passengers. Then there was the silly ferry again, this time backed up because of the long lines.

We finally exited the building to find out the shuttle buses and taxis weren’t running at all because there was an enormous, excessively rowdy Sikh parade that snarled the entire downtown. We trundled our carry-ons through the street, dodging sabre-waving parade participants, toward Union Station where many equally frustrated passengers were heading to catch GO trains and buses. Our train came to its final destination at Whitby station where we waited for the taxi.

On our very expensive, long taxi ride I asked the driver to turn off the babbling emanating from the back speaker. Oh for the tranquility of our house in the countryside.

All this to say, whew, where was there any time for blog and newsletter writing amidst all these goings-on?