Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year's Eve 2014

The Gate of the year...

The Gate of the Year was first published in 1908 with the title God Knows. It gained greater prominence in 1939 when King George VI spoke the opening lines in his Christmas broadcast to a British Empire plunged into World War II. By either title, the words of Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957) still capture my heart on the threshold of a new year.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
 What need our little life
 Our human life to know,
 If God hath comprehension?
 In all the dizzy strife
 Of things both high and low,
 God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
 Is best. The stretch of years
 Which wind ahead, so dim
 To our imperfect vision,
 Are clear to God. Our fears
 Are premature; In Him,
 All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
 God moves to lift the veil
 From our impatient eyes,
 When, as the sweeter features
 Of Life’s stern face we hail,
 Fair beyond all surmise
 God’s thought around His creatures
 Our mind shall fill.

Happy New Year
 to all my readers and friends. 
I wish you health and happiness.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Monday Moanings - December 29, 2014

Looking Back - Moving Forward

May 2014, Great Wall of China at Badaling Hills

The Old Year Runs Away from Me

the old year runs away from me.
I hang on to her sleeve
but she shakes me loose.
where does the old year go
when the new year comes?

she slips away into memories,
falls into the crevices of wishes
and ought-to-have-dones.
she waits no longer upon promises,
turns her back on the might-have-been.

the elves of the old year step in,
pack up the struggles, store the joys,
tuck them away in the bulging box
spreading out on the psyche’s floor.

it’s up to the new year now.
I bring a lot to her domain:
expectations, dreams, hopes,
and I place them all before
her strong, abundant door.

I walk into her untamed territory,
with a meek apprehension
and a vast sense of mystery,
assured by the welcome I receive,

anxious about what is waiting
behind the drawn window shade,
curious about what I will discover
in the hidden folds of her new days.

(from Out of the Ordinary ©2000 by Joyce Rupp. Used by permission of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved)

2015 brings us places to go...

things to blossom...

And promises to celebrate.

It's going to be a great year!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - December 11, 2014

Snow Day!

Yes folks, this is winter in Canada! It is nothing out of the ordinary. It is not 'snow-mageddon' or 'snow-pocalypse' and neither is it truly worthy of the dramatic language of the forecasts I heard last night. Weather it seems, is just not weather without an injection of sensationalism.

Remember Percy Saltzman on CBC TV? He made the science of the weather dramatic with great swaths of white chalk marking fronts and trough lines. He wielded the chalk with gusto leaving the viewer with a map of Canada marked with every weather system of the day and how it all worked together. Then he would toss his piece of chalk in the air, (and catch it again!) to end the forecast. Now that was exciting! And informative too.

Extreme weather events do happen - just ask the UK about their 'explosive cyclogenesis' or the folks
on our east and west coasts where rains in excess of 200mm have fallen and the winds are gusting over 100km/h. We do need to have the potential impact of these types of storms drummed into us with extreme language so that we sit up and take notice. But for an ordinary snow event in the month of December, please just give me the facts without an emotional impact statement.

It's winter, in Canada. We get snow. It can make roads slick and reduce visibility. It can disrupt schedules of all kinds. Break out the Nanook of the North equipment (toque, mitts, boots, parka, scarf and shovel). If you must drive somewhere, drive according to the conditions, or use public transit and pack plenty of patience. If your car does not have snow tires, please stay home! And if you are truly not comfortable driving in this weather, please stay home.

Here endeth the lesson!
Be careful out there. It's winter. Make it fun!

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 8 December 2014

Monday Moanings - December 8, 2014

Just a Wreath on the Door

There are few things I loathe more than putting up the outdoor Christmas lights. I have no idea what vexes me so about this chore - I quite enjoy the end result; rows of pretty lights cheering up the night. And I am often so very impressed by the design skills neighbours, friends and family - a tad envious too of their outdoor wonderlands. But isn't a wreath on the door good enough?

Despite my grumbling burgeoning apathy, guilt pushed me out the door on Saturday. The call of Christmas duty must be answered. The sun was shining and the thermometer crawled into positive territory. It was as good an outdoor decoration day gets in December. Without asking, my love heaved the shipping container of lights down from the rafters in the garage and helped untangle, wrangle and hoist the garlands into place. We shared bewilderment over how it all hung together, what went where and just how did it get there. We kept each other company on umpteen searches for the proper extension cords - heavy duty, outdoor rated, and long. And we provided harmony for each others chorus of curses.

Sharing and togetherness! Now isn't that just the essence of the Christmas Spirit?

And Sophie is so pleased to have her "Deer-est" friends gracing the front lawn, even if they do seem to a be bit on the skinny side.

(Seriously, I think the only outdoor decoration needed for Christmas is SNOW!)

©2014 April Hoeller

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Thursday, or Thereabouts - December 4, 2014

100 Years Ago Today...

Canada was a nation at war. The Great War, 'the war to end all wars' had begun just four months earlier on August 4, 1914 when Great Britain declared war on Germany.

The Prime Minister of Canada was Robert Borden; the Premier of Ontario was William Hearst and the Mayor of Toronto was Horatio C. Hocken.

One hundred years ago, 30% of households had a telephone and 20% had electricity; less that 20% had a cooking stove and less than 10% had a car. The crackle of radios, the hum of refrigerators, and the gurgle of clothes washers had yet to enter homes (source: The Atlantic).

Into this world of 1914, an immigrant couple living at 921 Carlaw Avenue, welcomed their firstborn, nudging the population of Toronto ever closer to 506,000. The new Dad hailed from England where he trained as a stationary engineer and plied the North Atlantic aboard the steamships of the Atlantic Transport Line, keeping the engines humming between London and New York City.

A gal in New York City stole his heart away and the two 26 year olds were married on November 11, 1911, ending his seafaring days. The newlyweds emigrated to Canada where the engineer took up a position with City of Toronto.

921 Carlaw Ave., on the right (Image courtesy of Google®maps)

One Hundred years ago today, December 4, 1914, Jim and Ella Cudbird of Carlaw Avenue welcomed a son into their world, my Dad.

Happy Birthday Dad!
Miss you like crazy.

©2014 April Hoeller

Monday, 1 December 2014

Monday Moanings - December 1, 2014

The view from the Bottom of Christmas Mountain

Kotor, Montenegro

It may be the top of the first week of a new month, but from my wagon the ride ahead looks steep and long, and anything but even. I'm rocking back and forth way down at the bottom of Christmas mountain. A 24 day climb lies ahead and it zigzags through all kinds of  hurdles: cookies to be baked, presents to be bought, decorations to be hauled out and put up, menu plans, food shopping and cleaning, lots and lots of cleaning.

The Christmas Magician in me is cringing just thinking about the number of feats of prestidigitation required to reach the top - pulling Yuletide out of my ordinary, everyday hat is no small thing. Good thing I have years of experience behind me to bolster my confidence. What I don't have on this Monday is the energy, but I do have a wagonload of apathy with which to begin the week.

Why bother?
December 25 is just another day, isn't it?
It's just another family feast, isn't it?
It's just another holiday hijacked by the Big Box Stores, isn't it?

In the chilly early light of today my answer is a long whiny yes. But not to worry - this seasoned Wizard of Yule knows just how to turn a frown upside down. A little rest, some fragrant soothing tea with just a smackerel of something sweet, and lots and lots of great music can always coax even the most reluctant of Christmas spirits out of my woolly and tattered hat.

Catch up with you later - I'm off to find my wand. I bet it's in the kitchen...

(If you yearn, as I do, for a moment of quiet along the mad dash to Christmas, a place away from all the hype and hurry, check out my daily Reflections for Advent 2014 blog. I post a little soothing something every day.)

©2014 April Hoeller