Monday, 12 October 2020

Monday Meander – October 12, 2020

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

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We made our feast on Saturday. There was turkey and there was pie. But as it has for seven months now, CoVID-19 muted the guest list, imposing a celebration that was abnormal,  incomplete, and far from perfect. Yet perhaps that will be what in time will make Thanksgiving 2020 poignantly memorable and in it’s own twisted way, special.

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The leftovers have been dispatched. The pies digested. The table has been cleared – roasting pans and casserole dishes scrubbed down, silverware tucked away, and linens laundered. All that remains on this holiday Monday is gratitude.

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"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."

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"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."

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"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."

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"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

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©2020 April Hoeller

Monday, 5 October 2020

Monday Meander – October 5, 2020

On this first Monday of October, I'm not finding any real forward motion. Oh, there is some motion but it truly is more of a meander without any direction, a fugue of indecision rather than an orderly decision tree.  Is Thanksgiving a go or no go? If a go, what’s in and what’s out, who is in and who is out. Is it take-out or eat-in? Do I make all the usual treats or pare it down? Simple or grand?

Is this Thanksgiving a gourd or a pumpkin?

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A year ago at this time, the man and I had just returned from a seventeen day journey through Scotland. The laundry had been done and the luggage stowed away without a thought that a year later it would still be unmoved and gathering dust in a closet. But hey, I need a diversion, so let's re-visit where those traveling bags took us last year, and of course let's check in with that little bear Schwartz.

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Whiskey tasting at The Malt Room, Inverness

Our journey took us to Edinburgh, St. Andrew's, Ballater, Culloden, Inverness, Isle of Skye, Isle of Mull, Iona, Stirling, and many points in between before ending back in Edinburgh.

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Tobermory, Isle of Mull

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The standing stone above Corgarff Castle, in Cairngorms National Park
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Dean Village along the Water of Leith, Edinburgh

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The Hogwarts Express on the Glenfinnan Viaduct

I also enjoyed a three day English side trip to Wooler and Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland while the man attended a conference in Edinburgh.

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Bronze Age stone circle at Duddo, Northumberland

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Greensheen Hill (above St. Cuthbert’s Cave),
and I did climb to the top of the outcropping on the right – well of course I did!

Och aye, twas a grand journey giving not only me but my Fitbit® a workout:  200,000+ steps (128km) + 720 floors (2200m). And the photos?  3000 of them still still need a full edit which gives me plenty of busy work for the dark months. But poor old Schwartz is getting antsy these days. Maybe I’ll have to start taking him out for car rides and together we can share memories of the places we’ve been.

Tasmania, Australia 2010

And Thanksgiving? Well, here’s what I know: there will be turkey,  there will be apple and pumpkin pies, and it will be a lumpy twisty gourd kind of celebration wrapped in humble gratitude. So be it.

 

©2020 April Hoeller

Monday, 28 September 2020

Monday Meander – September 28, 2020

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It may be sunny and even summery warm on this last Monday in September, but my enjoyment of such amazing Indian summer weather has been drowned by news of rising CoVID-19 numbers not only in the country, but the province and even in my town. The second wave is upon us, something I thought would have occurred in late October or even early November. I was counting on having a a bit of time to actually relax and not be so uptight about when and where to go out. I had even begun to get excited about Thanksgiving celebrations – the food, the decorations, the family.

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Ours have never been huge affairs. In recent years we’ve never numbered more than seven, still this feast is a big deal to me. It is my favourite one of the year.  But in 2020,  a microscopic microbe has swept all the vibrant anticipation, all the excited preparation off the table.  I have ordered the turkey, but maintaining any enthusiasm for a celebration that remains hidden in a cloud of questions is a heavy lift. It’s a good thing I have a new BFF to talk to.

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The scarecrow gets full marks for an unwavering stance on any topic I choose. Any question I ask is met with what I am certain is a thought-FULL silence and a bemused smirk that never fails to make me feel better. Perhaps together we two should embark on a journey through pumpkin land…2020-09-18 15.52.51wmk

I’ll be searching for the way back to my harvest home and the scarecrow will be looking for a brain. Along the way, perhaps we’ll meet a tin man in need of a heart and a lion in need of courage. I know I’ve heard this story before, but even in 2020, even in the midst of the second wave of a pandemic, it only takes a brain, a heart, and courage to find our way.

Mind the distance! Wash hands! Mask up! 

Let’s do this.

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©2020 April Hoeller

Monday, 21 September 2020

Monday Meander–September 21, 2020

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It’s the last full day of summer. So how’s it been? In a word, survivable. That’s my kneejerk response. Here’s another: run of the mill. In a year which continues to be anything but unremarkable, it actually sounds good to me to declare the summer survivable and unremarkable.

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For those still counting, and yes I am one of them, it’s pandemic Week 28 in these parts. Case numbers are climbing again, restrictions are increasing again, and tensions are rising again.

Screw it!
I’m going for a walk.

The sun is shining. The first frost decorated the ground Saturday morning and now the autumn colours are popping. Just step out my front door…

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Have a look around…

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It’s very busy…

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Now, look up, way up…

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It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood. There’s lots to discover…just ask my granddaughter.

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©2020 April Hoeller

Monday, 14 September 2020

Monday Meander – September 14, 2020

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The season of gathering in of all the good stuff in the land is in full swing in my house. It is my favourite season when nature puts on her best show and I try hard to capture every flavour.  This past week some of nature’s bounty decorated my kitchen with tomato splatter, peach juice, and flour.

It all started with a bushel of roma tomatoes.

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Which were cooked and strained, chopped or juiced.

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The end result was 23 x 500ml jars of passata, 7 x 500ml of chopped tomatoes, 3 litres of juices…

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…and one tomato-tinged apron.

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Then peaches slipped their skins and slid into pies and freezer containers.

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And the very next day, the flour and yeast joined up with oregano, basil, rosemary, and garlic along with some of that fresh tomato juice to make tomato bread and rolls.

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The fall colours, though just beginning, hint that a spectacular show is coming soon.  I think all of us here need something delightful to decorate our lives. Even in this year strained and ground down by CoVID-19, the harvest is bountiful and  I’m going to try to capture, savour, and preserve every bit of it.
 

Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest. 

Douglas William Jerrold 1803-1857

 

©2020 April Hoeller

Monday, 7 September 2020

Monday Meander - September 7, 2020

Labour Day 2020

This Labour Day weekend coincided with our 45th wedding anniversary. It was a Saturday in 1975, but this year September 6 fell on Sunday. A celebration was in order and so yesterday, we ventured beyond our community cocoon to head into the big city, Toronto, specifically The Distillery District. For years, this oasis of arts, culture, and history has been a frequent day trip for us. Great food, great energy, and all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore and imagine another time, or better times.



Past years would see us in the Distillery District every six weeks or so, enjoying live theatre, great food before or after theatre, and general mooching around. But 2020 is different. The theatre venue, The Young Centre for the Performing Arts is shuttered. 

Yesterday was the first time in all of 2020 that we've savoured the district's offerings. We began with lunch at Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill. A Shucker's Dozen of fresh oysters, chilled shrimp cocktail, sauteed rainbow trout and a feast of beer battered fish and chips.



Then, we donned masks for a walk along the cobblestones of Tank House Lane, Grist Mill Lane and Trinity Street. Street signs cheered us along the way, part of an art installation intended to raise spirits and remind all to chill out.


Any other time, we would have ambled away the better part of such a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon, poking our heads into this shop and that, browsing galleries, and getting a chocolate fix but this isn't any other time and though it was good to see people out and about, (and most masked even in the outdoor spaces), it was the most people we'd been around since this pandemic challenge began. This time, twenty minutes was enough. Time to hop in the jalopy and head for the hills.


This Labour Day I salute all those frontline folks who have worked so hard to keep up safe and healthy, fed and hydrated, entertained and, for the most part, sane in this pandemic world. 

THANK YOU!




©2020 April Hoeller