Thursday, 11 July 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - July 11, 2019

All jammed up!

Lady Spring's cool and damp may have held back those globes of lusciousness some three weeks, but the strawberries are coming on strong now. Better late than never!

Back in the day, some 35+ years ago, when we first arrived in this neck of the woods, picking our own vegetables and fruit was a family affair, a "friends and neighbours" outing too. July began with strawberries and sweet peas. Then the raspberries came along later in July through much of August as did the black currants. Most of the berries became jam, though I always froze some rasps for tarts and pies. And those black currants? Well, those not made into jam, became high spirited...a little something to take the chill off a long winter's night.

Soon we were growing our own veggies. Sugar snap peas stretched up along netting, ripe for the picking by early July along with some radishes. Green and wax beans followed - some eaten fresh, most blanched and frozen, a few pickled. The ever-shortening days of August and September brought in vegetables by the bushel basket. There were carrots, peppers, potatoes and onions all from our own garden. There were beefsteak and roma tomatoes too (all processed and canned for sauces) and for a few years even some corn.

My Dad in the corn patch, August 1983

These days there is no veggie garden out the side door, but there is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm offering plenty of organic produce. Every Friday from June through October I make the fifteen-minute drive to Zephyr Organics to pick up a box (half share) of just-picked delights.

I still go to the same farm in Mount Albert, Brooks Farms to get my berries each year, but for strawberries, I bypass the fields and head straight into the farm store to pick up a flat or two.

Yesterday @BrooksFarms - a quart of Saskatoon berries caught my eye too!

And by end of day, they're all in a jam!

Sunshine and warmth in a jar, or in this case a bunch of jars!

How sweet it is!

©2019 April Hoeller

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - July 4, 2019

As has been stated here many times in the past, I'm not a fan of hot weather. The 3-H's - hazy, hot and humid are not on my Christmas card list - maybe they should be?? I do know that there are folks out there for whom the ideal summer is an endless parade of sultry days where air temperatures soar past 30°C. To you hot bodies, I apologize for this blast of cold air.

When our children were young, a string of hot days brought challenges. Yes, we had air conditioning in the house but after about three days of indoor life, the blanket forts, videos, and crafts lost their appeal and cabin fever soon raised my indoor temperature beyond tolerable. On those days, we made good an escape. If the budget permitted I'd take them to freeze in a movie theatre. There was something fun about bundling up to sit in a theatre when outside a t-shirt was too warm. There were giggles galore along with occasional complaints about cold noses.

Most often, we headed to the cool Mall. Again out came the jackets. I had rules of course - no fighting, or screaming. Violations were punishable by immediate departure for all. That only happened once. For the most part, these excursions were cheap entertainment - there was always something new to see - and mmmarvellous mmmuffins® (as the shop was known back then), was always good for a snack. The biggest, most exciting discussion was about what muffins to take home for Daddy.

The mall outing always included some small toy, craft, colouring book and maybe even brand new crayons or markers from Lewiscraft (no longer a retailer). Sometimes there was even lunch out in the food court. Then with muffins and nick knacks and smiles, we headed home, where there were homemade popsicles, lemonade and rest before supper. Then it was off to the baseball diamond or soccer pitch, and sometimes both depending on which child was playing when.

Those were the days, the best kind of 3-H days -

Happy, Healthy, Home


©2019 April Hoeller

Monday, 1 July 2019

Monday NO Moanings - Canada Day July 1, 2019

It's Canada Day in this fair land...

I am humbly grateful to have my home on this piece of land in Canada.  
I am keenly aware of the debt I owe to the original keepers of this land.

I acknowledge the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, Huron-Wendat, and Haudenosaunee.
I also acknowledge the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation as my close neighbour.

I recognize the contributions that have been made by the Métis, Inuit, and other Indigenous Peoples
in shaping and strengthening our communities.

I thank all the generations of people who have taken care of this land for thousands of years.

On July 1, 1960, John Diefenbaker, Canada's 13th Prime Minister, introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights in Parliament with these words:

"I am a Canadian!
Free to speak without fear,
Free to worship in my own way,
Free to stand for what I think right,
Free to oppose what I believe wrong,
Free to choose those who shall govern my country.
This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and mankind."

I'm thrilled and proud to be a part of the colourful mosaic that is my home and native land. We're not perfect, not by a long shot; we're not without problems; we've got critical issues and controversies that need tending, but not right now. Let the problems and politics, failures and controversies take a back seat today.

Happy Canada Day, eh!

©2019 April Hoeller

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - June 27, 2019

Tomorrow, 7am will be silent.
Tomorrow, no windows will resonate with the rumble of school buses.
Tomorrow the 3pm 'rush hour' convoy of those same buses returning their precious cargo home, will be absent.

The rhythm of my day will be a little disturbed tomorrow, and even more so come Tuesday, without these timepieces; like the bell and drum towers of ancient China, they signal the opening and closing of the day. I'll get over it, of course, the sun streaming in my bedroom window will see to that, and come September I'll be disturbed again, this time by the return of the yellow rumblers to my street. Ah, but that begins all tomorrow.

Today is the Last Day of School!! WOO HOO!
Oh, remember the joy of it all?

Ripping the paper off textbooks, coverings that had been so carefully cut, folded, applied and decorated ten months earlier were then triumphantly handed back to the teacher, stripped of all interest.

Clearing out my desk and discovering that crumpled up test paper stuffed way in the back corner, the one with the big red "D" on it, then gleefully tossing the offensive paper in the garbage can - no way that was ever coming home.

Gathering up the standard issue pink workbooks (Pink? What were they thinking??), some of my artwork (only some because art was never my forte), a few remaining coloured pencils (a full set of twelve never survived ten months of grueling work), and last by no means least, my prized possession, a wooden pencil box with a lid that slid open to reveal four bright yellow HB pencils and one slender white pen with blue lettering, "Etobicoke Board of Education." All got stuffed into a bag for homecoming, with one addition - a white envelope containing The Report Card.

I recall that one year, the teacher called each one of us to her desk to receive the envelope. She whispered a comment and the room number for next year's class. I was told, "Well done April. Room eleven." It was a mixed message. I was already in Room 11, in fact, I spent grades 4, 5 and 6 in Room 11 - the annual shuffling of rooms and teachers didn't get me anywhere it seemed.

No matter, the last thing on my mind as I dashed out the school doors that day was next year's class.

A vast expanse of uninterrupted playtime stretched out before me and September was nowhere to be seen on my radar. Getting up when I wanted, sometimes to just see the sunrise from the lounge chair on the back porch. Riding my bike all over the neighbourhood, sometimes taking longer treks, farther from home just to see how far and how fast I could go. And long afternoons spent in our backyard pool until with fingers puckered like prunes, I'd drip over to the towels to bake dry in the sun. Then back in the pool again!

1961 - Dad & I in the pool, supervised by Gram & Gramps
1969 - me diving in, Mom in the background, ball in the air

Life was good!

Fast forward some 50 years or so, and the last day of school doesn't have quite the same kind of energy. There is no desk for me to clear out, no textbooks to return, no wooden pencil case and thankfully no report card! And we don't have a pool in the backyard.

But the strawberries are now just ripe for the picking and the Canada Day long weekend sits on the doorstep ready to kick off summer with a celebration of all things Canadian.

It's not just a single day anymore but three or four days of festivities and fireworks across the country.

I am so very fortunate to have the privilege of living in this great land and I am thrilled to be a part of the colourful mosaic that is Canada.

Life IS good!

©2019 April Hoeller

Monday, 24 June 2019

Monday Moanings - June 24, 2019

While Spring's rehearsals for the solstice were dogged by no shows, missed cues, sour notes, and overall sloppiness, the weather symphony still somehow managed to pull off a magnificent summer overture this weekend. Brilliant sunshine, fabulous blue skies, warm (not hot) days with low humidity. Summer perfection! 

As a kid, I loved the summer... 

1971 - Mom hosting a summer party

Hot! Hot! Hot! 

So hot the tar bubbles up between the pebbles on the road; round, shiny black globs. I can smell the tar - acrid gasoline fumes rise up from the road surface. My flip flops stick haphazardly as I walk; sometimes a step is unhindered, other times the foam sole sticks then releases raising fine black strands of gooeyness. Round flat, black globs decorate the bottom of my favourite summer footwear. I scuff over to the lawn hoping the grass will wipe away the sticky tar. It's futile. Now I have flip-flops with green grass clippings stuck to them...

Happy days indeed! Wind in my face bike riding, 5¢ popsicles, 10¢ ice cream cones, Coppertone® suntan lotion (no sunscreen!), big circulating fans swirling in the windows (the only A/C back in the day), family bbq's and a backyard pool made summer an absolute delight.

1959 - our first pool:1ft deep x 10ft diameter; with my older sister and I (white bathing cap)

1960 - Pool#1 with my younger sister

We didn't have a heater so a pool freshly filled in June began at 16°C (or less!) and crawled its way to a blistering 23° by mid-August. Those were the days of Fahrenheit, so "Arthur" our pool thermometer actually registered 74. One banner year I recall 'Arthur' made it all the way to 78F. In the early part of the season, while Dad was at work, Mom and I added buckets of hot water to the pool. When Dad came home, he splashed his hand in the pool and announced, "It's warming up nicely!" Mom and I just smiled.

1971 - Mom in pool # 3: 4ft x 15ft

1972 - Dad hamming it up!

Those were the days...

1972 - Me on a summer Monday - moaning...

©2019 April Hoeller

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - June 20. 2019

April, May and June showers bring...

Spring in these parts has been a little wet and cool and lacking in consistent hours of sunshine. Here's the chart for our solar panels - unless the sun shines every day, all day for the rest of this month (not very likely - it's overcast and raining today), our Q2 power production will be way short.

On the upside - the world outside my door is green...

...really green!

...and mean! 
The skeeters and blackflies are big, bountiful and bloody, discouraging forays into the outdoors when the weather is nice.

Image by Jomar Junior from Pixabay

But as the garden had been more than three days without a drenching from Mother Nature, early yesterday morning I drenched myself in bug spray and went out to water the garden. Hanging baskets, planters and garden flowers were alive with colour and bountiful blooms.

Come, enjoy my piece of Eden.

Gladiolus rising to the occasion

©2019 April Hoeller