Thursday, 28 November 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - November 28, 2019

As a typical November spreads her blustery lament across the landscape, the Black Friday bombardment reaches fever pitch, and wild turkeys plot revenge,  it's a good day for mugs of Chai, warm thoughts, and flights of fancy.

It's a good day to head to the beach!



©2019 April Hoeller

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - November 14, 2019

Someone's been doing a little assertiveness training over the warm months!

Old Man Winter showed up November 1st and has been overwhelming us with his distinctive personality ever since.

On sunny days, the artistry is sparkling with beauty. 

Other days I've awoken to a breathtaking -21°C (-6°F).

Still, the wildlife seems to be coping...

...and learning to share space and food.

Best of all, the resident beast is especially pleased and content to just chill out.

I'm thinking I'd better just get used to this seasonal yet early visitor. Still, I would like to make a small request of the pushy old gent. Please back off enough to allow me to get the outdoor Christmas decorations up and out, BEFORE December 1st. It really is no fun jamming anchoring stakes into frozen ground with frozen fingers! Just a wee bit of a warm-up will do for just a few days. In the meantime, while you're pondering my humble request, I'll enjoy life inside my version of a snowglobe. 

©2019 April Hoeller

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - All Hallows' Eve 2019


It's Halloween, the lamps are lit
And round the fire the children sit
Telling ghost tales bit by bit
'Til sister Jane says, "Shush!"  
Who's that creeping cross the kitchen floor?
Who's that peeking round the bedroom door?
Who's that SCREECHING like his throat is sore?
It's a GOBLIN!

There is nothing like a Halloween in Canada! Though parties for the big kids, aka adults, are becoming more popular, Halloween remains, for the most part, a children's festival. Costumes have to be both fashionable and endurable. They have to fit over snowsuits and galoshes. They have to maintain their integrity in some of the wildest winds and torrential rains. Past years have brought rain and wind, cold and snow, and on occasion, even a balmy evening.

Halloween 1987

This year's trick or treating weather is looking to be cold, wet and wild with flurries possible in the higher elevations. Some locales have postponed the spooky night until tomorrow when things are said to be calmer. Seriously? Come on people! This is Canada. We're tough. We rise to any occasion!

My preferred characters for Trick or Treating were pirates, gypsies, and tramps (no thieves - lol), and the outfits were cobbled together from stuff in the house an hour or so before heading out. My mother was no seamstress. Her needle skills topped out at darning socks. But what that woman could do with burnt cork, baby powder, and red lipstick was astounding, at least to me. She also had that big jar of Pond's cold cream for getting all the stuff off afterward.

Halloween 1960(?) Me - the one and only year I had a store-bought costume

My mother's #1 specialty at Halloween, at any time actually, was conjured up in the kitchen. She made popcorn balls - rounds of white popcorn held together by molasses syrup boiled to the hard crack stage. With buttered hands, Mom quickly assembled the hardball sized treats. The hot syrup always burned her hands no matter how fast she worked.

My kitchen treats

Gone now are such delectables, even the apples and peanuts are absent from the treat bag. We've all had to buy into the commercial brands. There will be very few pirates and tramps out tonight and it's been a very long time since I've heard anyone utter my childhood chant,

"Shell out! Shell out! The witches are out!" 

And who can forget "Monster Mash" by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and Crypt-Kickers?!

Be safe out there, and have a "Spook-tacular" time.

image credit: Meanwhile in Canada

©2019 April Hoeller

Monday, 28 October 2019

Monday Meander - October 28, 2019


Over the weekend the disposal bug struck with gusto. That in itself is an unusual occurrence! Nevertheless, the fact remains that my household and I have reached the age and stage where disposal trumps acquisitions and anytime to get rid of stuff is a good time! I cleared out three bankers' boxes. The contents of two of them I dispatched to the Salvation Army along with three pairs of gently used shoes and a collection teddy bears. The third box was full of business papers from 1989 through 2001. Who needs those? I fed them to the hungry shredder and they are now ready for the recycling depot. Good job, eh?

I then decided to tackle the hall closet. I knew this was dangerous. I knew the treasures that lay within but buoyed by success, I dared to pull open the bi-fold doors.

My pupils dilated, my heart raced, and my fingers twitched at the sight before me - a luminous tower of jigsaw puzzles. London, New York, and Venice, trains, boats, and island houses, antique tools, toys, and more. Oh my!

My thumb and fingers rubbed together in joyous memory of the soft click as a long-sought puzzle piece finds its place in the whole. My heart warmed to the thought of bringing order and beauty out of a jumble of cardboard. And I sighed in tribute to the triumph of pressing that final piece into place. It is as close to perfection as it gets...

I turned away from the tower of temptation, trying to force my attention to the other side of the closet, the one stacked with thirty+ year-old children's toys and games. But alas I cast a glance back to my left.  Only for a moment, I swear! Long enough to see a bright orange jack-o-lantern wink at me.

'All Hallow's Eve' levitated into my hands. My feet spirited the box and me to the dining room table where the final temptation spilled out...

As I was transported away from the closet,  I swear I heard sighs of relief punctuated by a few victorious cackles coming from behind those mahogany bi-fold doors...

I'll ponder that a bit while I'm sitting at the dining room table this week piecing together jack-o-lanterns, witches, ghosts and ghouls.

©2019 April Hoeller

Monday, 14 October 2019

Thanksgiving Day - October 14, 2019

This IS the day -

"...a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God 
for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed."

So reads the decree enacted by Parliament in 1879. The actual date moved around a little before the government proclaimed that National Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October.

When I was growing up, there was never any thought of celebrating on any other day than the officially decreed Monday. It mattered not a whit that folks had to be rough and ready for work the next morning, or that kids had to be up and out to school. Thanksgiving back then was a single day, a great day of family and food complete with all the good china and silverware, and of course, we ate in the dining room, not at the kitchen table.

This was the day back then, when "the bird" - always at least a 22 pounder! - had to be stuffed and in the oven by 9am. My mother was in the kitchen shortly after 7 in the morning and didn't leave it until supper was served at 6pm and then she was back in there cleaning up until late. No microwave ovens, no automatic dishwasher, no convection oven, and one small fridge, with a 1 cubic foot freezer section.

And yet, it still was always a feast of plenty including leftovers for turkey sandwiches, turkey stew, or pot pie during the week. Mom loved every minute of it, perhaps not so much the clearing up, for which my Dad was conspicuous by his absence...
"Lovely meal Irene, now I'm going to bed."
Yeah, that was Dad, but to be honest I'm not sure how welcome he was in Mom's kitchen.

For both the indigenous tribes and the early newcomers to this land, this time of year was one of both deepest gratitude and fervent hope. Come wind, come weather the land had yielded her best and barns were more or less full.

But would the bounty be enough to sustain life through a winter of unknowns?

I have not known such a tenuous life, none of my family has. Sure, we've had our struggles, our lean times, but we've always been able to gather together at Thanksgiving amid an embarrassment of riches. I am as humbled as I am grateful for this bounty.

I'm now of a great enough age to be keenly aware that good living does not grant any immunity from calamity down the road. A winter of unknowns may give a warning but never asks permission to visit, let alone stay a while.

Our family celebration was on Saturday. It was a feast of plenty, a cornucopia overflowing with good conversation, great laughs, and a new place at the table.

In my heart and home, today is a day to kick back, relax, enjoy and reflect.

I am so very thankful on this day for my family, my friends, our health and prosperity. I am truly grateful "for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed."

Happy Thanksgiving, eh!

©2019 April Hoeller

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - October 10, 2019

Autumn's falling leaves waft gold and red in the air. They touch my doorstep with a gentle tap - Thanksgiving has come calling.

Not even a full week back from our Scottish journey, my time is consumed with shopping, cleaning, and cooking.

There isn't much room in my ToDo list for 'Thanks-giving', yet a warm noontime breeze pauses my busyness and this offering of gratitude, written by Joyce Rupp, comes to mind:

"We are grateful for
eyes that see and ponder, 
for taste buds that know the sensuous pleasures of eating and drinking, 
for hands that hold and touch and feel, 
for ears that can delight in music and the voice of a friend, 
for a nose that can smell the aroma of newly mown grass or delicious food, 
and can also breathe the air that gives us life."

"We are grateful for
the treasure of loved ones
whose hearts of openness and acceptance have encouraged us to be who we are. 
We are grateful for their faithfulness, for standing by us when our weaknesses stood out glaringly, 
for being there when we were most in need 
and for delighting with us in our good days and our joyful seasons."

"We are grateful for
the eyes of faith, for believing in the presence of God, 
giving us hope in our darkest days, encouraging us to listen to our spirit’s hunger, 
and reminding us to trust in the blessings of God’s presence in our most empty days." 

"We are grateful for
the ongoing process of becoming who we are, 
for the seasons within, for the great adventure of life 
that challenges and comforts us at one and the same time."

"We are grateful for
the messengers of God - people, events, written or spoke words - 
that came to us at just the right time and helped us to grow."

Joyce Rupp; May I have this Dance? ©1992 Ave Maria Press; p. 151

Happy Thanksgiving!

 ©2019 April Hoeller