Thursday, 29 May 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - May 29, 2014

So much has already been said. So much remains to be heard.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
photo courtesy of
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou   April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014
Listen to Dr. Maya Angelou recite her poem

Much has been said in the last twenty-four hours about this giant of our time, many remembrances shared and quotes offered. At the risk of re-stating what has already been said by many, here are some of my favourite Maya quotes:

"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass."

 "I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back."

"If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be."

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."

"The excitement is not just to survive, but to thrive, and to thrive with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style."

"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practise any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again."

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

"What I really want to do is be a representative of my race — of the human race. I have a chance to show how kind we can be, how intelligent and generous we can be. I have a chance to teach and to love and to laugh. I know that when I"m finished doing what I'm sent here to do, I will be called home and I will go home without any fear."

"What I would really like said about me is that I dared to love. By love, I mean that condition in the human spirit so profound it encourages us to develop courage and build bridges, and then to trust those bridges and cross the bridges in attempts to reach other human beings."

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

Thank you Maya Angelou for your honesty, your courage, your laughter, your wisdom.
Thank you for singing your song, now truly flung up to heaven.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Monday Moanings - May 26, 2014

Signs of Summer

It was a great weekend, though now I could use a day or three off to recover. The deck got scrubbed. The patio furniture got hauled out of the attic and put up. The first al fresco Sunday breakfast was savoured in glorious sunshine. The lawns got cut. AND my love and I stacked (and split when necessary) about a third of the winter firewood that was delivered last Tuesday. How many other people do you know who spend gorgeous summer weekends stacking firewood? I think it's our claim to fame.

Every year just as the weather begins to warm up, sometime between the last week in May and the middle of June, the big truck rolls up the street, backs into our drive and dumps three bush cords of split (a few bits not so split) firewood. It's a true sign that summer is on the doorstep.

The neighbours or anyone else who happens to drive by might have a different take. I've seen the head shaking and laughter. I've seen the jaw drops. I've seen the horror on their faces. Have no fear my friends, you are not stuck in a time warp that swallowed summer; the warm, sunny, flowery and downright sultry days are not lost; and we are not the weirdos on the street (oh well maybe that part is debatable). The way has been paved for summer's flourish - our firewood has been delivered. Give us another two weeks and it will all be stacked, ready to bask in the swelter of the dog days, ready to be seasoned for the winds of November.


©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - May 22, 2014

A summer love

Oh the fragrance is just so intoxicating. My heart sings, my lungs full to the brim with the heavenly bouquet. I skip. I leap. I shout. I dance with joy.

A machine hums along with me, offering a perfect bass note and throbbing vibrato to my ode to joy. Slender green dresses fill the air, swirling in the sunlight before floating to the ground, their moment in the ballet complete. Life is good. But then a puff of blue-grey smoke, a sputter, a cough, introduce an unwritten fermata into the musical score.

Damn!  I'm anxious to start the music again. I turn to face the powerhouse square-on, grab on to the starter cord and give it a good yank. Nothing. Again. Nothing. A third time. Nothing. Now the air full of "expletives deleted's." This action between my right shoulder and the starter cord is not in the choreography. I'm desperate to return to the dance.

One more almighty pull.
A cough, a sputter, a puff of blue-grey smoke and wonders of wonders, miracles of miracles, the bass and percussion sections roar to life.

The performance begins again, a perfect bass line grounding full fledged joy, rumbling through my bones, vibrating in the depths of my soul, propelling me into a new summertime.
How I love mowing the lawn!

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 19 May 2014

Monday Moanings - May 19, 2014

It's Victoria Day!

A day for bbq's, gardens, and fireworks as the folks in these parts celebrate not the late great grand queen, but rather the first long weekend of the summer season. Also known as the May TWO-FOUR weekend, which more and more seems to refer to a case of beer rather than a May day. 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 lawn mower 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. The Two-Four, remember?

Well of course Mother Nature did not cooperate, at least not until today - just might crack the 20C mark today! But Saturday began with frost, and through Sunday it remained cool and showery. I did get the lawns cut, no parts required, and I even paid a visit to the garden centre where I bought two hanging baskets. I can bring them inside if it gets too cool.

The bedding plants will have to wait until the frost danger is truly past which in my neck of the woods is June 1st. And I'll be ready!

I'm just back from a hike in the forest with my love and our resident canine Sophie. The forest today was filled with bird song, sunshine, trilliums galore and other folks out for a hack on horseback, or just strolling the woods on foot, smiles all around.

We even spotted a scarlet tanager.

Tis a grand day, as befits that grand old lady for whom the day is named.
Happy Victoria Day!

©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - May 15, 2014

There's no place like home.

The refrain began soon after the plane began its final approach to Toronto's Pearson International Airport last Thursday afternoon. A month before we had left behind piles of snow and frozen ponds to cruise the wonders of Asia. This adventure turned out to be a little more demanding than our usual world exploits, not only in terms of distance and itinerary, but also health. My lungs wheezed, sputtered and coughed in response to the poor air quality of a China in the midst of an industrial revolution fuelled almost entirely by coal. Not only was I ready to come home, I needed to come home. So there I sat on the plane, nose pressed against the window, searching for familiar landmarks, heart hungry for home. Eyes prickling, I rejoiced as a green, very green landscape emerged. A few familiar highways looped their way across the ground and beyond them, a clear, crisp horizon. There's no place like home!

A note from a friend encouraged me to re-enter my world gently, adjusting to time and space as body and soul permitted. I took this to heart and tried to keep my days back home low and slow. But through the fog of a twelve hour jet lag, lay Mother's Day. For the first time in several years I would actually be home for this celebration. Kids wanted to know what I wanted to do. DO? I didn't want to do anything. Supper out was suggested. My body groaned. I'd been eating out for a month.
"We'll be dining in," I said.
"We'll order in Chinese," they offered.
My innards contorted. I'd just spent the last two weeks eating Chinese. "No," I said. "I'll cook." I said.
"We'll help," they said.
And so it was. My kitchen and I soon remembered what good partners we are and Mother's Day was celebrated with the first BBQ of the season. Thick steak, lobster tails and potatoes - scortched but not charred - topped with sour cream and chives, a salad bowl brimming with crisp lettuces, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and mushrooms all glistening with olive oil and splashed with basalmic. There's no place like home!

The rest of the week has unfolded, or not, as the spirit moved me, or not. I ambled through the forest once, breathing in the earthy air, daring to fully inflate my lungs. God, it felt good! My spirit rose to a profusion of trilliums, white trefoils waving in Spring delight. There were even a few purple ones - a very special gift. I strolled my own yard to take in the periwinkle in bloom, lily of the valley upstanding in their field and the promise of pies from the rhubarb patch. Even the happy gang - bright yellow dandelions - were a treat.

I've watched and listened to the birds this week. For the very first time, Baltimore Orioles have come to the feeders. The rose-breasted grosbeaks are back, along with the hummingbirds, and the gold finches have put on their summer yellows.

Best of all, last night as I put together a supper of grilled salmon and 'first of the season' asparagus (with butter & lemon), the sounds of a Spring sonata came through the open window. The splatter of rain drops and the trill of robins' song, together proclaiming,
There's no place like home!

Wild strawberries in my yard

p.s. For those wondering if there will be anymore stories and photos from our Asian Adventure on my travel blog, the answer is yes. Look for something early next week.

©2014 April Hoeller