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

Monday, 7 October 2019

Monday Meander - October 7, 2019

On this first Monday of October, I'm not finding any real forward motion. Oh, there is some motion but it's more of a wander than a direction.

It feels like my whole being - body, mind, and soul - has experienced a whiplash injury from a super slow-motion crash. Nothing is quite connected this morning. I am meandering in the backwash occasioned by jetlag.

Recovery would no doubt be quicker if the cause of this malady were the result of a seventeen-day lie-on-the-beach vacation to some tropical paradise five timezones away, but it wasn't. True to form, my love and I geared up for adventure as we embarked on a journey through Scotland. This bumper sticker was spotted in Loch Àlainn (Lochaline). That's us!

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.

Whiskey tasting at The Malt Room, Inverness

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

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.

Bronze Age Stone Circle at Duddo, Northumberland
Greensheen Hill (above St. Cuthbert's Cave) and I did climb to the top of the outcrop on the right -
well, of course, I did!

By the numbers:
17 days away
200,000+ steps = 128km (80 miles)
720 floors = 2200m (7200feet)
3000 digital photos taken.
The laundry is done. The luggage stowed until next time. All those photos have been uploaded but will have to wait until after Thanksgiving for editing.
Schwartz is on the wagon headed to rehab.

And the Hogwarts Express still plies the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

©2019 April Hoeller

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - September 5, 2019

A Harvest of Gratitude and Love

Forty-four years ago today I was enjoying the last day of my life as a single woman, or as read in the banns of marriage, "a spinster of this parish."

All of 22 years old and already a spinster. Imagine that! The old church language would seem to have credited me with far more experience than I actually had.

I was still living at home in 1975 and like my older sister before me and my younger after me, I went directly from my parents' home to married life without ever truly experiencing the world as a single woman. In 1975 that's the way it was for many women.


This never bothered me back in the day. I never thought for a moment that I was missing out on an integral piece of life - making it on my own in the world. But now my love and I have both crossed the mid-sixties age line.

Sometimes gloomy thoughts invade my space. The day may well come when I will have to go it alone and I have never had to fend for myself. I don't know the first thing about it. If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, of course, I'd have taken some time on my own, just a couple of years to learn something about it all. Hindsight is such a marvelous thing, isn't it?

It's best not to get too caught up in such solemn truths, yet it's also folly to deny them, so I'll just render the grim realities a brief nod of acknowledgment, then carry on through our days together.


September 6, 1975

In 1975 I was thrilled to be marrying my high school sweetheart, the love of my life. The wonderful world lay before us and we wanted to live it together.

We still do.

On this night forty-four years ago, my boyfriend and I went out on our last date as singles.

The midnight curfew was still in effect but I scared the bejeezus out my folks by returning home at ten.

The colour slowly drained from Mom's face and Dad walked toward me, arms outstretched, "Everything all right, dear?"

"Yup, everything is perfect.
And it still is.

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!
Robert Browning

©2019 April Hoeller

Monday, 2 September 2019

Monday Meander - September 2, 2019

Labour Day 2019

Here I am today:

Exercising caution:

And making a small request:

Today is a day of gratitude for the work and workers who keep this country functioning.
Today is a day of celebration of freedom:
the freedom to choose our work, 
the freedom to choose our leisure,
the freedom to write.

It's time to push off into a new week, a new month.
Wherever you are, have a great week.

©2019 April Hoeller

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Thursday, or Thereabouts - August 29, 2019

A gentle breeze wafts through the sunroom as I watch butterflies, birds and grasshoppers make the most of summer's offerings. I'm pleased to see that the hummingbirds are still stopping by to sip nectar from blooms and feeder in equal measure. I wonder for how much longer? Last year they hung around well into September.

The Labour Day weekend sits poised on the doorstep. All and sundry it seems are anxious to kick summer to the curb. The retail world stands far ahead of the crowd having trotted out the Hallowe'en paraphernalia along with mitts and parkas a few weeks ago. And the meteorological world declares that the last day of summer is August 31st.

But just hang on a cotton-pickin' moment!
Hold your horses! What's the hurry? 

My readers know well that I'm not a fan of heat and humidity, but I still think that summer's first days and her last are her most glorious. So I will take my seasonal directions from above and beyond, from the great daystar who offers light and life for free.

The sun declares that the autumnal equinox signals summer's departure. This year, in my part of the world this changing of the guard is set for the early morning hours, 03:50 to be precise, on Monday, September 23rd. That's TWENTY-FIVE days from today. There is absolutely no need for summer to even begin thinking about packing her bags just yet.

I rejoice in these late summer days blessed by warm breezes and cool nights, with windows wide open and receptors primed to take in a sensory feast of delights. There's still plenty of blooming going on in my garden.

There are still plenty of days to celebrate summer goodness...

 ...and even preserve some of it to savour in the dark months.

Better grab it while I can.


©2019 April Hoeller

Monday, 19 August 2019

Monday Meander - August 19, 2019

Nothing like a few days away to put me weeks behind, or so it seems. We returned home Friday just after 2pm having enjoyed 3+ idyllic days in the land of  Niagara wine and the Shaw Festival. Then there ensued a whirlwind of activity: the car was unpacked, a trip into town for groceries and to retrieve the furry beast from the 'spa' (she was all fluffy from a bath that morning and only just a little upset with us!), then off to the farm to pick up the weekly veggies followed by the phone mail, the email and the laundry.

Oh and then someone had to make supper! No printed menus to peruse, no ice water shimmering in fine glassware, no gleaming cutlery, no executive chef, no one to chop and clean, no servers, eager to please, and no artistry on a plate.

Just me, flash thawing some haddock and rescuing veggies that had made it three-quarters of the way to the compost bin all because the house sitters did not eat them, tossing all in the oven then slapping it on a plate in some ill-fated attempt at presentation craft. Well - at least it tasted good.

And what did we bring home with us?

Sixty-five, yes 65! bottles of wine, thirty-one reds and thirty-four whites, which I catalogued and lay down in the cellar on Saturday. But that's not all. We stopped by a Mennonite farm on the way home and brought two baskets of peaches. Yesterday, those were blanched, peeled, sliced, and either put into pies or frozen.

I do love peach pie, peach & blueberry pie, peach cobbler, peach crisp, and more but the fruit is a mess to prepare and leaves a sticky mess, so then, of course, I had to wash the kitchen floor.

Is it nap time yet?

We also brought home good memories of excellent live theatre, an evening of supper and theatre shared with our son and daughter-in-law, and a delicious escape to a town of amazing gardens. Oh, what I could do if only I had a fulltime gardener!

I know all too well the depth and breadth of my ToDo list for the coming days and weeks, but still, I'm going to just meander my way back to ordinary.

©2019 April Hoeller