Monday, 20 August 2018

Monday Moanings - August 20, 2018

 Eeyore, the old grey Donkey, stood by the side of the stream, and looked at himself in the water.
“Pathetic,” he said. “That’s what it is. Pathetic.”
He turned and walked slowly down the stream for twenty yards, splashed across it, and walked slowly back on the other side. Then he looked at himself in the water again.
“As I thought,” he said. “No better from THIS side. But nobody minds. Nobody cares. Pathetic, that’s what it is.”
There was a crackling noise in the bracken behind him, and out came Pooh.
“Good morning, Eeyore,” said Pooh.
“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it IS a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.
“Why, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”
“Can’t all WHAT?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush. ...I’m not complaining, but There It Is.”
A.A. Milne 

I'm having an Eeyore kind of start to the week. I am languishing in a still pond of apathy. I am weary of this summer heat and humidity. It has sapped me of all energy and enthusiasm. BUT -- a pond has limited boundaries. and so does this float in the doldrums.

The autumnal equinox is but 32 days away. But if one is more anxious to kick this summer to the curb, you may join me in doing so in just TWELVE days. Meteorological autumn begins on September 1.

Cue up the freshening breezes, vibrant colours, and crisp mornings. Change is a-coming.

©2018 April Hoeller

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Thursday, or Thereabouts - August 16, 2018

image courtesy of the CNE

The proclamation that the end of summer is on the horizon, the return to school is close at hand, and the resumption of regularly scheduled programming is about to begin, bellows to life tomorrow:

Let's go to the Ex! 

Yes folks it's that time again - the Canadian National Exhibition, (aka the CNE or The Ex) 2018 edition, opens tomorrow!

image courtesy of  the CNE

The last time I was there was 1995.

The best part? Meeting up with my Mom - sharing the memories of bygone years with my daughter.

1966 programme - CNE Heritage

I'd love to go the Ex again!

I say that every year but as much as I think I would love to go to Ex, I have to concede that the CNE I want to go to is the one I went to as a child in the 1960's.

Teens and adults alike camped out for days in order to be the first through the Princes' Gates.

Coming from Etobicoke in the west end of the city, our usual entrance was through the somewhat less grand, yet no less exciting, Dufferin Gate.

After a bus to Jane and Bloor followed by two streetcars, my older sister and I made our way into the fairgrounds, heading straight to the fountain, as per Dad's instructions,
"Meet me at the fountain."

Then it was on to the Midway, passing by the Press Building, the Better Living Centre, the

Grandstand, and the Food Building.

I'm not sure why but the Food Building was rarely if ever, a permissible stop along the way. Perhaps it was the crowds. Perhaps neither Dad (nor Mom on those few occasions that she came with us) trusted the quality of the offerings. Perhaps it was because they really didn't want us to have a taste of what we could not afford.

Candy floss (aka cotton candy) - which one year ended up as a pink decoration on the back of a man's brown suit . For the record it was my sister's candy floss, not mine. Mine was blue!

Warm ice cream waffles, most of which melted before making it into my mouth, leaving sticky hands and clothes. Dad was not amused.

Sometimes a Corn dog or a few Tiny Tom donuts were the treats of the day.

Flash forward to this year's food offerings at the Ex and I think perhaps my folks' restraint still has some merit. Fried butter is so very EIGHTyears ago. 2018 is all about pancake bacon tacos, deep-fried chicken feet, spaghetti doughnut balls, and something called "Dragons's Breath Crepe."

Want to see more of the 2018 food offerings? Check it out here.

image courtesy of the CNE

But who cares about the food? The Midway was where it was all happening!

CNE Midway 1966

Being all of 10 years old my favourite rides were pretty tame: the Ferris Wheel (in later years even the double Ferris Wheel), the carousel and it's souped-up sister the Derby Racer, the Dodge 'ems and something called the Polar Express. The games of chance were always a huge disappointment for me. Every year it looked so easy to get that dime onto a plate or shoot down big yellow ducks as they moved across the shooting gallery. Every year I wasted way too many dimes. And there were tears.

In 1975 my cousin Claire, just a visitor from England, manage to get her coin (by then not 10¢ but 25¢) on the plate. I wasted my quarters - again - but didn't cry, well not really. Okay, maybe just a prickling around my was sooo not fair!

Back to the 60's - I well recall the year, Dad gave my sister and me $5 to spend on rides (rides back then were 25¢) while he went off exploring some of the buildings. My sister, six years my senior, had different tastes when it came to rides. Not only did she con me into going on the Wild Mouse, she put me in the front seat of those little two-seater cars. Sheer terror! The first and last time I have ever been on a roller coaster. 

Touring the back alleys of the sideshows was always an adventure - fun (weird people) and scary (snakes and really weird people). But it was a place my Dad loved. In the mid-1930's he had worked as a carny with the Conklin brothers at these amusement shows during the summer. It helped pay his way through university.

Back then freak shows were a hit - "Believe it or not!" Spectacles we would today find quite despicable and completely unacceptable were big entertainment.

As we walked along Dad would begin to recite the well-practiced banter:
"Ernie and Len - Four arms, four legs, two bodies with but a single head.
Come in and see them now."
"Sonteega the headless woman, decapitated in a train accident in Reading, England.
Doctors don't know how long she may live. Come in and see her now!"
Hoppy the Frog Boy, The Fat Lady ("My, but She is FAT") and the snake charmers were in his repertoire too, though few of the characters remained part of the 1960's sideshows. I only 'saw' them through my Dad's recitation, yet I'd go home and parrot Dad's banter to all the neighbourhood kids. They may have been to the Food Building but they never got to see the wonders of the back alley sideshows.

Let's go to the Ex!

I'll show you where Ernie and Len hang out along with Sonteega and maybe some of the others...

Meet me at the fountain.

©2018 April Hoeller

Monday, 13 August 2018

Monday Moanings - August 13, 2018

On the Wagon...

Sitting on my wagon rocking back and forth at the top of a new week. My fountain pen is fully loaded with fresh ink; a stack of fine paper is at the ready; my inner critic is bright-eyed and mouthy as usual. "When are you going to get down to some serious writing," she scolds.

I fell off the blogging wagon in July of last year but managed to crawl back on (with gusto!) for the A to Z Challenge of daily posts for the month of April. And I've managed to hang on with two blog posts a week ever since (less three weeks vacation time). That's the good news.

The bad news is that work on the book has ground to a halt. I'm not stuck, it's not writer's cramp. There is a host of scene skeletons neatly suspended in the file folder just waiting for some flesh and connective tissue. So what's the hold-up?

Well here's the truth: I spend way too much time with this question in the percolator while my write hand guides and clicks a mouse through the intricacies of Sudoku puzzles and Mahjong Titans. Such activity while apparently good for my aging brain and the consumption of time, does little else of benefit to either me or the world. In other words, the only muscles getting a workout are the ones having to do with procrastination.

What I need is a mousetrap, but where oh where does one find a trap for such a mouse? And how then does one set it?

Actually what I need is serious 'backside in chair' time, somewhere out of reach of that blasted mouse. I'm thinking the library will be a good place to settle my pens, paper, and derriere.

So let's tighten up that chin strap on my helmet, lower the goggles into position and push off...

Wherever you are, have a great ride this week.

©2018 April Hoeller

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Thursday, or Thereabouts - August 9, 2018

Look up, way up.

As a little girl I stood tight beside my Dad, our backs pressed up against the brick wall of our house, our heads craned upwards, watching, waiting for Sputnik to pass over our night sky. He was a keen astronomer from his youth so while we waited in the cool night air for the Soviet satellite, Dad took the time to point out the Pole Star, Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Arcturus, Sirius, Orion, Alpha Centauri and anything else visible on a clear night. He always was the first to spot the moving point of light arcing across the sky above us.

"There, look there," his finger stabbing the sky above us, "there it is. Sputnik!"

"I see it Daddy, I see it!" I squealed.

Then silence, a deafening silence engulfed us, my little hand clutched inside of his big one. I'm not sure who had the tighter grip as we watched, eyes then bodies turning to follow the alien orbit until it disappeared out of sight. "Amazing...absolutely amazing..." Dad whispered.

The night sky is one of the few places left that still holds a profound sense of mystery. One of the joys of living in the rural routes is seeing the sky in all her glorious light. When I look up into that blanket of darkness pin-pricked with twinkling lights I am always awestruck, almost overcome with wonder and uncertainty, reverence and skepticism, amazement and bewilderment. And one other emotion lurks in the background - a prickling of fear, that ancient human angst that rises in the darkness of night.

Yet, come mid-August every year, anticipation builds in my heart. The night sky is about to put on its annual show of wonder. The remnants of comet Swift-Tuttle glide overhead in a festival of shooting stars, the Perseid meteor shower. Today I searched out the details of this year's show for my location. Click here, then fill in your location to get the picture for your area.
Sky conditions permitting, I will be outside in the early minutes of Monday, August 13, my back against the wall just as Dad taught me, eyes on the sky. And probably I'll be humming this gem from Perry Como, released in 1957, the year Sputnik1 and Sputnik2 were launched.

Perhaps this time, I just might catch a falling star...

©2018 April Hoeller

Monday, 6 August 2018

Monday Moanings - August 6, 2018

It's a holiday Monday in my part of the world. 

Back in the 1800's the government of the day recognized the need for an extra day of relaxation in mid-summer. Winter hardy Canadians needed a long holiday weekend to revel in the all too short pleasures of summer living - boating, water skiing, swimming, bbq's, beer, baseball, wine spritzers, and lounging in the sunshine.

It's called Simcoe Day here in these parts, though around Ontario other names prevail: Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Joseph Brant Day in Burlington and Benjamin Vaughan Day in the City of Vaughan. And around the country still other names head up this first Monday in August: Regatta Day in Newfoundland, Natal Day in Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick Day in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan Day in Saskatchewan, Heritage Day in Alberta, and British Columbia Day in, you guessed it, British Columbia.

I've written about the history of this day and the contribution of John Graves Simcoe in a previous blog. Click here for the link.

And what am I doing on this holiday Monday? Well, moaning is not permitted, however sweating is unavoidable outside my door. I was out before 9am to give the flowers and plants a deep drink of water before the sun rose high enough to inflict her blazing beams on bloom and bud, even then the air was sultry and rivulets of wet saltiness soon formed on my face. Still I'm happy to report that at least some of the plants are managing to thrive in the heat.

Now I'm staying inside, grateful for air conditioning, writing and musing, and occasionally casting my eye over the weather radar, because this kind of heat and humidity (30°C with 65% humidity) can break with bang!

The red dot (upper middle of the picture) is where we live.

Take care everyone. 
Keep an eye on the sky. 

Have an iced coffee.

©2018 April Hoeller

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Thursday, or Thereabouts - August 2, 2018

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the A/C is so delightful.

And since we've no place to go,
Think of snow, think of snow, think of snow...

I know, there are folks out there for whom the ideal summer is an endless parade of sultry days where air temperatures soar past 30°C. For you heat lovers, Sizzling Summer 2018 is a real winner.

For me, it's not really been that great. The 3-H's - hazy, hot and humid - will never be invited to any of my barbeques. For that, I make no apologies, though I do apologize for any offense incurred by my blast of cold air today.

When my 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. Cabin fever soon raised my indoor temperature beyond tolerable. When that happened, we made good an escape. If the budget permitted we'd go 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.

Most often, we headed to a cool mall. Again out came the sweaters. 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.

Sometimes more expensive pursuits were on the agenda - snowsuits in August! There were giggles as heavy pants and jackets were tried on for size along with matching wooly hats and mitts. Then it was off to Lewiscraft (no longer a retailer), for a new craft, or a colouring book and maybe even a pack of brand new crayons.

Then with a box of extra muffins for Dad, knick-knacks, snow gear, and smiles, we headed home, where there were homemade popsicles, lemonade, and maybe even a nap - for me!

After supper, it was off to the baseball diamond or the 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. 

©2018 April Hoeller