Monday, 31 March 2014

Monday Moanings - March 31, 2014

Not a day for moanings at all!

March 16/14

Today, March 31/14

I have ranted and raved and moaned too often about a wretched winter that will not let go, but today in the interests of fair play and equal time, I abandon lament to babble with delight!

March 11/14

Today, March 31/14

What glorious sunshine!
What welcome warmth!
What stirring music!

March 7/14

Today, March 31/14

Our Lady Spring has awoken!
And she is such good medicine for my soul. The choir of birdsong deepens with the entry of honking Canada Geese and the house flies are all a-buzz with new life. I revel in the squishy ground underfoot and the ankle deep mud that is my springtime driveway. With measured pace I step in every puddle and giggle as water splashes over my shoes. Whoopee, I've got a soaker!

March 7/14

Today, March 31/14

Tis a grand day! Take a deep breath. Smile.
The Greening is coming.

©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - March 27, 2014

A Tyranny of Lists

Thursday already?! The rope on the travel tether ball is shortening at an alarming pace and there is so much still to do. For months it sat buried underneath other months, each one with its own schedule of appointments, celebrations and reminders, and then all of a sudden The Asia Adventure ballooned out of calendar.

©Africa Studio -
I started making the lists two weeks ago: things to buy, things to clean, things to do, things to pack. But that's not all. There are sub-categories: clothing, food, house, books, documents, meds, accessories, gadgets, power supplies and more.

It's a nightmare, albeit an semi-organized one. UNTIL one of the lists goes AWOL ('absent without leave' for those unfamiliar with the term). A massive search and recovery mission ensues fueled by caffeine and cuss words. It's not a pretty sight let me tell you. But worst of all is that many of those rascals sneak back into the community of lists and often just after I have reinvented them. I can't say 'recreated' because that would require a memory skill, something I often can't find either. Occasionally I do get to celebrate the lost which is now found, but mostly the tyranny of lists gobbles up entire afternoons.

©Africa Studio -

In spite of a few sporadic disappearances, I am making progress. The house may not get cleaned for the house sitters, but the essentials will get done. It is possible that one power supply may be forgotten, but we'll be in Hong Kong and then Taiwan. They just might have a few for sale there.

And my love and I will begin our Asian escapade right on schedule.

Between now and then, chaos will reign. Just warning you. Be prepared.

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 24 March 2014

Monday Moanings - March 24, 2014

The Travel Countdown has begun!

I'm a little late with this today, but just blame the courier.

There I was sitting at the kitchen table, fresh hot latte to my left, fully loaded fountain pen poised in my right hand, pristine white page before me begging to be branded with my script. But what to write at the top of another new week? Several hands shot up to offer answers in my classroom of ideas. I considered which one to call upon, my mind caught up in weighing the merits and savouring the possibilities. I was yanked out of this creative reverie by the intruder alarm.

A great ruckus of barking, growling and foot-stomping from our resident canine announced that a FedEx truck had pulled up out front. The driver bounced out, giving rise to more barking and fancy footwork. Under his arm was a grey box.

Those few country names on the side were more than enough to get my feet dancing. I made the requisite scribble of a signature on the electronic keypad and he handed me the package.

Travel Documents! Now this was exciting! I headed straight back to the kitchen table, shoved the writing gear aside, then lay the box down and pried it open, licking my lips as I worked. For the next hour and a half I engrossed myself in going through everything. I checked the ID badges - yes our names are spelt correctly. I checked the luggage tags - yes, as advertised they are real leather! I read the little booklets cover to cover, TWICE. But something was missing. A ticket.

There's just something about holding a ticket in my hand that makes my travel dreams real. I don't just want to look at it on a computer or smartphone screen. I want an official paper with dates, and names and transportation details with a bit of unintelligible airport and city codes. But today I got a box. A box which held a snazzy black zippered case emblazoned with The Viking logo on the front and a tagline on the back - "Exploring the World in Comfort®". The itinerary and destination booklets are tucked inside along with personalized nametags on lanyards and luggage tags.

I guess these will just have to do to satisfy my need for something tangible. Admittedly, the luggage tags do have a certain cachet, a bit of an exotic allure ...
but still, I want a ticket!

©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - March 20, 2014

True Confessions

I'm having an affair.

Well there it is, out in the open. Truth be told, there's nothing new about this. It began many, many years ago. I was smitten from the moment I first looked up into those gleaming gold highlights. I was wooed by dark mysteries, gargantuan body parts and promises of travel to faraway places. In my university years our late afternoon trysts were soft transcendent moments of comfort and joy. Marriage and the arrival of children demanded only a few modifications of our rendezvous but no change in ardour. In fact my love came into full flower -- at the entrance to THE BAT CAVE.

photo taken summer 1977

And now you know! This object of my affections for most of my life and half of its, is the Royal Ontario Museum - The ROM. My dear paramour turned 100 years old yesterday at precisely 3pm. I am as enamoured now as I was when my eight year old feet first stepped through the big doors on Avenue Road and into the awesome rotunda. The golden Murano glass mosaic on the ceiling still takes my breath away, as do the gargantuan dinosaurs in the new Crystal.

Photo courtesy of the ROM

The promise of travel to other lands and other times is still very much alive and well. Case in point is current special exhibition: the The Forbidden City - an amazing glimpse inside the court of China's emperors - and an especially timely display as we will be in Beijing in less than a month's time.

Thank you ROM for so many years of delight:
      for encouraging me to look up, way up, to see the bigger things in life,
      for giving refuge when university stresses threatened to overwhelm me,
      for taking me to faraway places and long ago times,
and thank you ROM for THE BAT CAVE, which provided hours of shrieking entertainment for our children.

Happy 100th Birthday!
(We'll carry on meeting in the usual place...)

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 17 March 2014

Monday Moanings - March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day - A Hearty Menu

Dublin, September 2007

Irish stew, soda bread and a pint of Guinness - as grand a meal as one would wish, especially when winter just will not let go and there isn't even the remotest chance of seeing any green foliage, let alone a four leaf clover. We didn't wait for today but made our feast last night.

Right at home in the Guinness Brewery, Dublin, September 2007.

Beef browned in bacon fat, joined carrots and onions in a bath of a pint of true Irish brew, then simmered in the slow cooker all day long, before being dished out into deep bowls. Thick hunks of fresh baked brown soda bread mopped up the hearty broth.

All that's left today - brown soda bread and an empty can, or three.

Twas grand indeed - and about as Irish as we can get. But then again I spent many a childhood summer immersed in the "Irish Riviera" that is Breezy Point, New York, AND one of the ancestors married a maid from County Meath. Yet I'm still thinking all that is not enough to lay claim to shamrock blood.

Still you know, as wee ones my sisters and I (and even my wee folk) were lulled to sleep by a mother's voice crooning An Irish Lullaby, made famous by Bing Crosby in the 1944 movie Going My Way.
Over in Killarney
Many years ago,
Me Mither sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low.
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good ould Irish way,
And l'd give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.

"Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that's an Irish lullaby."

Oft in dreams I wander
To that cot again,
I feel her arms a-huggin' me
As when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a -hummin'
To me as in days of yore,
When she used to rock me fast asleep
Outside the cabin door.
1914 James Royce Shannon

Mom also taught me "All Through the Night" and I sang it to her on the few last nights of her life with us.
Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee 
Floor mosaic St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh, Ireland, Sept. 2007

All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and dale in slumber sleeping
I my loving vigil keeping 

All through the night.  
While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O'er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night. 
Hark, a solemn bell is ringing
Clear through the night
Thou, my love, art heavenward winging
Home through the night
Earthly dust from off thee shaken
Soul immortal shalt thou awaken
With thy last dim journey taken
Home through the night.

Cobh, Ireland, September 2007

And I can still hear my Mom and Dad singing any time of the year "When Irish Eyes are Smiling", "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen", "Cockles and Mussels", and so many others. Back in the day, no gathering of the clan large or small was complete without the singing of "Oh Danny Boy" accompanied by a few toasts to absent friends.

Today I'm celebrating the music, and the family that sang whether along or together, in good times and in bad, come wind or weather.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Slainte mhaith!

©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - March 13, 2014

I'd rather be...

It was -20C (-4F) first thing this morning and the world outside my door was all dressed up in brand new snow white, AGAIN. Spring has not just slipped back a little beneath the horizon but rather has done a nosedive. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014.

The snow shovel was frozen to ground and the snowblower needed a boost from the electric starter to roar into life, but roar it did and my love and I finished the 'snow job' in time for me to get to the dentist. 
What was to be the semi-annual scrape and polish turned into a major repair job. So here I sit with an brilliant winter day outside and a Novocaine frozen face, thinking about the places I'd rather be.

I'd rather be...
enjoying breakfast in Cordoba, Spain.

eating oysters in Dunedin, New Zealand

(this one needs no explanation)

buying figs in Crawford Market, Mumbai.

cycling along the Appian Way in Italy.

sitting at a cafe in Mykonos.
©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 10 March 2014

Monday Moanings - March 10, 2014


OMG! The sun is shining and it's a blistering +6C outside my door!
And there are signs of glacial retreat:

Friday, March 7/14
Monday, March 10/14

But that's not all that's outside my door - I can hear the overture to the Symphony of Spring.

It begins with some capricious percussion work as snow melt sends water droplets into the eaves troughs. Then a steady trickle builds along the roof line moving toward the entry of the downspouts with their distinctive gurgle and rattle. Soon this glorious water music is accompanied by an avian chorus, filling the air with tweets, chirps and trills as winged creatures great and small swoop and swirl in the warm sun.

But my favourite part is Spring's unheard heartbeat that throbs underneath it all. This chant of awakening rises and falls, rolls and flows beneath the still winter wrapped ground outside my door.

Mother Earth is stirring.
Just below the horizon her greening has begun.

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood.

Think Spring!

©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - March 6, 2014

A Treasure Box Day

Twenty-seven years ago today I awoke to labour pains. Our second baby was on the way. It was a cloudy and very warm day, +8C by noon (compare that with today's -18C, but it's sunny!). At 2:35pm all 9 lbs.7 oz. of her splashed into our lives sporting a head of spikey red hair.

I said "splashed" because my waters did not break but rather backed up behind the babe and she rode something of a tidal wave out of me. The crash as the waters hit the floor of the delivery room is one of most vivid memories of the day - that and the red hair. Oh, and maybe the fact that beside all the other newborns ours looked like a 3 month old. But I was sort of used to that. Our firstborn was 9-1/4 pounds.
We make 'em big it seems.

My love and I are so very proud of both our son and daughter. They have grown into responsible, intelligent and happy adults with lives and loves of their own.

My treasure box is overflowing with joy, love and gratitude. 
We are blessed. 

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 3 March 2014

Monday Moanings - March 3, 2014

In praise of Denial

Brace yourselves. I'm in a bad mood today.

It's not a great way to kick off a new week, but I didn't order up this melange of grief. It reared up on me shortly after I awoke. Rest assured, there has been no great tragedy in my life. No loved one has died or been diagnosed with cancer. There have been no reports of family divorces, job losses or broken bones.

There has been a frustrating disappointment with a body that refuses to cooperate with me.

There have already been tears this morning, but I've moved past the Depression and, following a brief tour in the Bargaining basement, I've run headlong into Anger. Anger yanked me out the gloom enough to write this post. That's a good thing, but now I'm counting on Denial to make an appearance. A warm blanket of denial would be very nice right now, especially as I know Acceptance is still a long way off.

Denial is most often the victim of a bad rap. There are times when it's the best place to be, the only place where there is some positive energy, some comfort, and above all some joy.

And that's what I need today - some joy.

I think it's working...
I'm feeling happier already. Denial - I love you!

©2014 April Hoeller