Monday, 1 June 2020

Monday Meander - June 1, 2020

Report from the blankie fort - Week 12

When I hunkered down in this space away from the world, I thought I'd be here for four weeks, maybe six. But here we all are still inside our fortresses, bear bums and all, at Week 12 of the pandemic state of emergency. Sure, there have been some opening up of retail and recreational spaces, but OMG have you seen the lineups and the crowds

I understand the rush to break out of the fort, to just get out there and do something normal beyond the boundaries of my own house and property, especially something that includes family and friends, up close and really with us not flatscreen digital projections. I totally get that. But there is nothing I truly need that will have me standing in a two-hour lineup in the blazing sun in order to purchase it. There is nothing I truly need, even social contact, that will allow me to be in a crowd. I'm not yet ready to risk my health nor that of the people I care about to throw caution to the wind. 

So what am I ready for? I'm ready to go grocery shopping every week to ten days instead of every two to three weeks. I'm ready to visit a garden center to pick up some annuals to brighten the garden, some dahlias, pansies, and marigolds, and some tasty herbs - basil, rosemary, and coriander. My lineup time limit is twenty minutes and I must be able to keep my distance even with my mask on.

I'm ready to plan a Canada Day Party for July 1, knowing full well that it may be digital, but hoping that there will be at least some loved ones gathered together as we've not done since Christmas. 

I'm ready to make the most of every day, come what may. I have days that are etched with discontent. I have days when the perception of confinement angers me. I have days when what I ought not to do and where I ought not to go weighs heavy on my heart.  Days when the garden, the yard work, the field of nature right outside my door, the distraction of watching favourite movies just doesn't relieve the grief of things lost to this pandemic. 

all of these lamentations are so very first-world...
I am not homeless. I am not starving. I am not being persecuted. 
I am safe. I am free. I am well. And for this, I am humbly grateful.

Deo gratias!

Keep on keeping on Together Apart.

©2020 April Hoeller

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Thursday, or Thereabouts - May 28, 2020

In the Doldrums

It's that kind of day here, inside and out. Three days of blazing sun and high humidity have given way to overcast skies but still very humid air as we await the heavy rains forecast for later today courtesy of topical depression Bertha. I've had what feels like a busy week. By what I once knew as normal, there wasn't a lot of activity, not an overflowing list of accomplishments to show, but in this pandemic world, a ninety-minute virtual meeting, a thirty-minute workout with my personal trainer via Zoom, and a trip into the heart of downtown Toronto for an annual check of my retinal scarring (good result: no significant change = no surgery) has somehow sucked the stuffing out of me. 

This not quite so ancient mariner has sailed into the doldrums.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, no breath no motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I know where I am. I know that soon the winds will pick up and I'll be on my way again under full sail. In the meantime, I'll sit up on deck and befriend the calm, enjoy the stillness, and await the freshening breeze. Besides, good things are growing right outside my door!

Still keeping it together apart,
Take Care.
Be well.

©2020 April Hoeller

Monday, 25 May 2020

Monday Meander - May 25, 2020

Report from the blankie fort - Week 11

Throw off the blankies! It's way too hot here for layers. Summer it seems has grown impatient as Spring foot-dragged her way along and now has unleashed her hot-breathed dragon. It's 30°C (86°F) as I write this with 70% humidity. While points to the north got a deluge of rain last night, we got just 5mm. Still, it was enough to bring out an explosion of pine pollen and an eruption of my asthma. So today is an indoor day - a sealed up full-on A/C day.

I hope the bears in the window will enjoy the sauna they are about to get in the sunroom today. I'll keep an eye on them for any signs of heat stress. 

Today I'm remembering 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 that made summer an absolute delight.

I know we all want to get out of this tight space we're in right now but the fastest way out of this is to stay put.

Be one of the cool kids -
Stay Home!

©2020 April Hoeller

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Thursday, or Thereabouts - May 21, 2020

It's beautiful day in the neighbourhood

And it's the second one in a row! Woot woot! We're on a roll with sunshine and warmth - normal for May, not new nor old but a fresh and oh so welcome normal. 

Here's what it looks like -
On the land

Wild Strawberry


Dandelions - always a happy face!

red trilliums

In the garden

Apple blossom just waiting to burst

And no May would be normal without the annual delivery of winter firewood.

Ready! Set! Go!

Enjoy the normal wherever, whenever you can get it.

Still keeping it together apart,
Take Care.
Be well.

©2020 April Hoeller

Monday, 18 May 2020

Monday Meander - May 18, 2020 (Victoria Day)

Report from the blankie fort - Week 10

It's Victoria Day, a holiday Monday capping off what has traditionally been the three-day stretch of gardens, bbq's, beer, and fireworks as the folks in these parts celebrate not so much the late great grand queen, as the first long weekend of the summer season. In any other year that I've known, this is the weekend that garden centres, hardware stores, and gas companies get really excited about as winter-weary Ontarians dig out the planting gear and drive to the garden centre to buy bedding plants; haul out the lawnmower and drive to the hardware store to get parts to make it work; and/or drive up to the cottage then drive to the hardware store and garden centre to get parts and plants. Oh, and beer. There's got to be beer.

Not so this year. The siege of CoVID-19 continues and though the hardware stores and garden centres are now open, there are restrictions and in my case apprehension about rushing out there to shop. Cottage country holds the same apprehension as local authorities struggle to find a middle ground between health risk and economic ruin. It's a tough call for all of us everywhere. 

Grand displays of fireworks have been snuffed out by regulation and today's all-day rain. I know our dog will be most happy about that. She gets terribly upset with all the snap, crackle and boom. But I love fireworks and always have. Ah well, another time.

All is not lost. Saturday we were treated to amazing warmth and sunshine - just the ticket to get me up and out of the despair of virtual meetings and digital overload and into the world right outside my door. I washed the front windows removing winter's grime and improving the view immensely. I turned over two garden plots and cleaned out the rest. 

I lectured the bunny about not eating the freshest tulip blooms nor the tender just-greening Sweet William. 

Naughty Bunny!

I cheered on the visiting duck whom I have named Daffodil. She's been dropping by daily for over a week now to waddle and dabble underneath my birdfeeders and drink from the birdbath.

I scrubbed down the bbq, checked the gas cylinder and jets, then cleaned and seasoned the cast iron grills. 
Bring on the burgers and the beer! 

with a side of zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms & cheese

I'm quite content to rest today, savouring the joys of being well, well-worked, and well-fed by gardens, a bbq and some beer. Three out of four traditions for this weekend makes it a solid 75% success. SCORE!  The last word on this Victoria Day Weekend the 2020 Edition appropriately goes to the grand lady herself, Queen Victoria:

"We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. 
They do not exist."

©2020 April Hoeller

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Thursday, or Thereabouts - May 14, 2020

Not quite zooming along...

I'm fighting a hangover from yesterday's virtual meetings. Both meetings accomplished what they set out to do. Both outcomes were good enough. But I struggled. My natural gifts honed by training and decades of practice have given me the ability to read a meeting room quickly. I can feel the energy and know whether it is positive or negative, safe or not. I can sense who is comfortable and who is not, who is keen to be present and who is going through the motions, who is burdened and who is free, and from that information I know where I need to be in that room, who I need to support, and what I need to do and say. 

In the world of virtual meetings, all the cues, (body language, breathing pattern, small facial expressions, murmurs of agreement or dissent, etc.) that I use to discern my place in the company of others are unavailable. Yesterday that fact smacked me upside the head and knocked me clear off my feet. I was so far out of my element that I had no idea what to say. Easily ninety percent of what I wanted to say never made it to spoken word. By the end of the last meeting, I felt stupid, old, and useless. I know that I'm actually none of those things (vintage maybe, but not old!) but feelings are neither good nor bad, they just are, and I felt them. 

I had to get out of the house. I headed into the forest looking for clarity and solace. I cried. 

I'm still in a funk today. How am I going to function in this evolving virtual world?  Do I even want to function in it? Is this really the way of the future? As a temporary and essential measure, I can learn to cope with digital meetings. My inner critic is cackling "Suck it up, buttercup. It's the way it has to be right now."  And I will figure it out and it will be good enough, but I don't see how an electronic meeting will ever be as informative, energized, and most importantly creative as being in the same room with people who share a mission, a goal, and objectives.

I'm going to sit with my discontent today, let it run its course, and then I'll get back to work tomorrow.

Together Apart
I can do this.
We can do this.

©2020 April Hoeller

Monday, 11 May 2020

Monday Meander - May 11, 2020

Report from the blankie fort - Week 9

Not much has changed except you may note a patch of white in the upper centre of the bears' lookout. That is SNOW and it has been a feature of the view for much of this weekend. In this house the only one thrilled about that is the resident canine, Sophie.

Making snow angels is an absolute delight for her! Me? Well, in December it might be fun and worth a giggle but in May - not so much! Snow is not entirely unheard of in May in these parts, but it's always been a passing thing, some flurries and wind, lasting no more than half a day and not accumulating! I don't ever recall a time in the 40+ years that we have lived here that our woodstove has been fired up in May, but there it is, bright with warmth and cheer.

It seems that just when a few pandemic restrictions were being loosened, just when it was beginning to look like we could be a little freer outside, just when cabin fever was beginning to cause some to ignore the precautions, the weather gods sent the Polar Vortex our way keeping us sheltered in place with a force field of cloud, snow, cold, and wind. For the first time in a very long time, there were no hanging baskets of cheerful blooms outside my house for Mother's Day. The garden centres were open but one look at the forecast of overnight below-freezing temperatures until maybe mid-week and I knew that the flowers were best to remain ladies in waiting at the nursery.

My daffodils are hanging on...

Last year at this time the hummingbirds and orioles had made their annual appearance at the feeders. Not so this year - yet, though I have heard reports of them being very near. Perhaps the white covering over the feeders is just too discouraging for them too. It certainly has the goldfinches in a flap!

Spring will show up, if but only for a few days before being blasted away by blazing summer. The hummingbirds will come, the orioles will come, all the birds of summer will show up when it is good for them.  And when it is good for us, we too will all show up where we want to be.

Make this a good week nine. 
We can do this. 
Together Apart.

©2020 April Hoeller