Thursday, 27 February 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - February 27, 2014

Fair Warning

Yet another sinister swirling mass of arctic air has hijacked positive temperatures.
Remember this breathtaking chill when the weather patterns reverse engines and fire breathe out a blistering heat wave. It will happen and there will be complaints about that too.

I give you fair warning that I will be among the first to rant about the heat.
Be prepared for feverish discussions of those malevolent "3H's" -
Hazy, Hot & Humid. 

Oh I can just feel it now -
sweltering, sweating, bug swotting,
sunscreen slathering, hammock swinging, lemonade drinking,
barbeque smokin', strawberry picking, corn boiling, tomato reddening



©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 24 February 2014

Monday Moanings - February 24, 2014

Hanging up my jersey

courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Team
After 17 days of thrills and spills, passion and power, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have come to an end. There were a few glitches - all typical of an undertaking of this magnitude - and not one of the much touted, frightening scenarios materialised. I suppose there may be some out there in the big bad world who are disappointed by the lack of extremist explosions, but I along with most of the world I believe, am most grateful for the peacefulness. Vladimir Putin and company put on a good show, and for that too we are all grateful. The athletes put too much effort and sacrifice into preparing for the Olympics to have them sabotaged by shoddy venues and organisation.

The Sochi Games were a success! Perfect? No, of course not, but well done.
Thank you Sochi.
Thank you Russia.
Thank you to all who participated.
Thank you to the entire Canadian Olympic Team for giving your best;
for living out not just your dreams but my Olympic dreams too,
and for making us all so proud to be Canadian.

courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Team

Now all that remains is for me to hang up my Team Canada jersey ... or not ... I think I'll wear it a few more times this week, this month, this year. It just feels that good!

(But is it okay now to hang up "We Are Winter" and put on something warmer, like We Are Spring? Just wondering...)

©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - February 20, 2014

The Doldrums

The ship of this not quite so ancient mariner has arrived in the doldrums yet again. Unscheduled, unplanned yet always on time, this annual sojourn in the land of idleness always appears on my itinerary in the last weeks of February.

Now one would think that such regularity, such predictability would give rise to highly effective coping strategies, or even better yet a calculated manoeuvre to avoid this navigational hazard, but no. This mariner, vintage, but not ancient (but maybe a tad repetitive?), charts the same course every year: smile and wave at the Candlemas Day lighthouse on Feb. 2, bask in the joy and warmth of Valentine hearts and flowers, and then ...

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 flail. I toss and turn. I toil away at the coal pile of self-recrimination until one day, time and place click together and it dawns on me that I've sailed into this sea before. In a guilt-laden lament to my beta reader friend earlier today I wrote that I "was dead in the water" with no writing to offer her as our meeting date loomed. Time and place snapped together. Aha!

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 mean time, I'll sit up on deck and befriend the calm, enjoy the stillness and await the freshening breeze.
All is well.

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 17 February 2014

Monday Moanings - February 17, 2014

A drop in the bucket...

A clear, bright -23C (-9F) this morning with the promise of a snowstorm by nightfall.
I guess it's still winter.
We're halfway through the last row of firewood.
And it's Monday. Again.

And I haven't got a clue what to write here today. Woe is me. A thousand ideas clammer for attention. A
thousand more ToDo's wave frantically (and sorry about my ineffective verb demanding an adverb - it's Monday so give me a break).

Oh, but wait - what light through yonder window breaks? An advert for the Maple Sugar Festival at Brooks Farms just popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. Now there's something to lift the spirits. The folks at the farm think the sap will be running by March 1, just TWELVE days away. Sweet!

image courtesy of Brooks Farms

I can taste the cool sweetness of the sap.
I can hear the 'plink' of a drop in the bucket...

I can smell the wood fire under the blackened pots.

I'm loving their optimism.

It's going to be a great day afterall! 

©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - February 13, 2014

A breath of fresh air

The Olympics overwhelm me - the superlatives of height, speed, twists, turns, triumphs and grace set against the failures, accidents, misfortune and broken dreams gets to be too much. Today is a day to take some deep cleansing breaths and step away from all that tension.

Today finds my love and I heading into the city to explore the new Ripley's Aquarium.  I'm anticipating a delightful submersion into a virtual underwater experience where we will be treated to the vibrant colour and astonishing form of critters we know and love from dive trips. And we will do this without struggling with all the heavy gear and gauges scuba diving demands! I can feel the "ahhhhh" settling into my bones just thinking about it.

Then there's supper at Sabatino's Ristorante - I'm anticipating olive oil, garlic, basil infused delights for the palate accompanied by a red wine from the Veneto.

A gondola glides past the Rialto, two lovers kiss...

It will be a lovely day with my forever Valentine.
And Sophie sends this "Salami d'Amour" Valentine to all:

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 10 February 2014

Monday Moanings - February 10, 2014

Hockey Dreams

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved to play hockey. She dreamt about stick handling her way down the right wing, closing in on the net, then a quick wrist snap puts the puck in the top left corner It's all one fluid movement and she nails it every time. That's the way it is with dreams.

Reality told a different story. It was the 1960's, the time before helmets and face masks. Little girls were not supposed to like hockey let alone play. More than that, girls were not allowed to play hockey. And no wonder - girls skates, those bright white figure skates with the sharp picks at the front, were not made for hockey. The little girl struggled in too narrow skates, hand-me-downs from a sister who skated perfectly through turns and twists, forwards and backwards. She never mastered the task, defeated by those blasted picks that dug into the ice and sent her down too hard, too often. The laughter and taunts from the sidelines didn't help.

The best Christmas ever delivered an official hockey sweater of the Chicago Blackhawks, CCM gloves and a Titan hockey stick. The dream lived on. Her father, cutting up the ice in speed and wide turns, encouraged the dream. The mother tolerated the dream, taking all this hockey stuff in her stride for the most part, but she drew the line when the father suggested buying boys' tube skates. It was a bridge too far for the mother of the not so girly daughter.

No matter, out on the winter street, hard packed with snow, the neighbourhood boys always needed an extra player and the little girl was always dressed and ready to go in sweater, gloves, stick and boots. Living the dream.

The years passed and girl grew and the boys grew and soon wanted nothing to do with the hockey girl who couldn't skate. She settled for Hockey Night in Canada to satisfy her desire, but mostly the dream fell asleep, and thirty years slipped by...

1998 - The Women broke onto the ice hockey scene at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.  A little girl's dream tucked inside a gown woman, stirred and stretched. Oh to have been born in the 70's instead of the 50's.


It's 2014 and though I have no stick, no gloves and still no skates, I've got my official hockey jersey and  my heart skates along with Wickenheiser, Apps, Hefford, Johnston and all the rest.

She shoots! She scores!
The dream is alive again.
Go Canada, Go!

Story ©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - February 6, 2014

Enough Already!

How can something that was so wonderful and so celebrated just 8 weeks ago, be so annoying and downright tiresome now? Magnificent white landscapes that sparkled and amazed now evoke groans and curses, even from that most ardent lover of winter, me. It still is pretty in it's own way but my heart no longer burns with devotion. Another 18cm fell from the sky yesterday and I can't remember if I've ever seen this much snow on the ground since we moved here in 1978.

The view from my kitchen window Wednesday morning

After 20 minutes behind the snowblower

Deep, really deep.

But sunset is getting later...

Even Sophie looks disgusted

But here's what I thought of as I shovelled off the deck:

Sunday morning brekkie in June on that very same deck. 
Oh joy, oh bliss! 
All in good time, all in good time.

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 3 February 2014

Monday Moanings - February 3, 2014

Gong Hei Fat Choi

© xiaoliangge -
Saturday's Celebration Supper began with Crab Rangoon appetisers followed by
Shrimp & Pork Won Ton Soup,
Chicken & Vegetable Spring Rolls,
Pork & Chive Dumplings,
Shrimp & Scallops with Snow Peas,
Orange Crispy Beef, Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce,
Jasmine Rice,
2 dipping sauces - Peanut and Sweet Chili,
Yanjing Beer,
and ending with
Fresh Fruit,
Almond Cookies and Fortune Cookies.

Have a look:

From start to finish, from plan to palate, from cutting board to chopstick, this was one of the most satisfying meal celebrations I've ever undertaken. I loved every moment. Every dish rewarded taste buds all around the table. As wonderful as it was, as great a feast as it was, the final verdict was delivered in a fortune cookie:

The first four words say it all!

©2014 April Hoeller