Monday, 16 March 2015

Monday Moanings - March 16, 2015

Can I get a note?

It’s little more than 36 hours until take off and I’m a tad frantic. The string on the tether ball marking the departure time is very short and my 'yet ToDo' list is very long. I've been very good and certainly much more thorough than in years past, yet the accumulation of scribbled post-it notes, scrawled lists and neat entries in the official travel prep booklet does not seem to be diminishing as planned. This was supposed to be the most organised departure ever. This was supposed to be the least stressful departure ever. And up until Saturday it was. But then the power went out!

The service interruption alarm on the household Internet router announced the loss of electricity at 4:30am, and it kept at it with a triplet of chirps every 30 seconds for a full hour until choked to death by loss of battery power. At first Hydro One told us the power would be restored by 7:30am. We went back sleep and awoke at 9am to no lights, no heat, no water. Worst of all NO COFFEE!

But the folks at Hydro One said all would be back by 11am and thanked us for our patience. Well it wasn't. The entire afternoon was clocked by missed then revised estimates for power restoration. The sun set. And within minutes back came the lights and the heat and water. But the day had been lost; a day that was stuffed full of things to do - laundry, vacuuming, cleaning and preparing two writing submissions.

I've done the laundry and I’ve tidied the house - sort of. There remains a slim chance of the vacuuming being done, but the window of opportunity for the writing work has slammed shut. Can I get a note from Hydro One, excusing my failure to complete the submissions?

To Whom it may concern;
Please excuse April's inability to complete your writing requirements. Spring runoff of salt laden snow (fault of the Roads Department, not us!) corroded our equipment. The resulting pole fires and a few exploding transformers interrupted electrical service for fifteen hours.
We are sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience. 

I'm disappointed, but not devastated - there's no time to wallow in missed opportunities this week. The house-sitters move in tomorrow and will have to be fully briefed, not just by me but also by Sophie the resident canine. She will want them to know the 'correct' meal and treat schedule, which is not the one mommy wrote out. I know that she will pine for us just a little; mope around for a week or so but then motor on.  I will miss her morning greeting, a cold wet nose nudging my cheek accompanied by a little whine, “Mommy, are you in there?”

My love and I will be far away on another adventure, where it will be warm and wonderful. I will not be posting on this blog, no “Monday Moanings” or “Thursday, or Thereabouts”, until sometime after April 8. Look for me then.

In the mean time, hold the fort while I'm gone, and take care of each other.

©2015 April Hoeller

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Thursday, or Thereabouts - March 12, 2015

The All Inclusive Holiday

March Break is but a breath away. Secondary and elementary school teachers and students are counting the minutes before the mad dash to the white, ski slopes or sandy beaches. Either north or south, it is an escape from school and if you believe all the hype, it is all about a week of family fun. And that's a good thing. I'm all in favour of both family and fun. I'm also a big believer in downtime, no pressure, no program, no duties.

Back in the day, when I was in grade school the Spring holiday was tied to Easter. This of course meant that it was a movable feast, occurring anywhere between the last week of March and the last week of April; anywhere between icy snow pack and blooming daffodils. The hype, if you could even call it that, went to the tune of "Hear Comes Peter Cottontail" (Gene Autry) alternating with "Easter Parade" (Judy Garland and Fred Astaire). Though church was buried in there somewhere too, I hopped my way along the pastel Easter bunny trail in the short week preceding the holy days. At school there were stories about chicks hatching, arithmetic problems about jelly beans and a basketful of crafts that all began with cotton balls.

The first four days of the school break were all about family and fun, none of it particularly religious until we all rose to go to church Easter morning (after the Easter egg hunt of course!). There we sang the great hymns, inhaled (and nearly fainted from) the fragrance of umpteen dozen Easter Lilies and wished everybody a Happy Easter. Then it was home for the grand feast celebrated with family gathered around the dining room table. Monday we all just sat around recovering from all the food and festivities. Tuesday Dad went back to work and Mom was left for four days to cope with three kids, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and hard boiled eggs. It was down time, serious down time. We each found our own space and activity. If we were really lucky, it was a week when the Bookmobile came to the bottom of our street, and we got to go with Mom. That was our outing of the week. And it was grand!

In 1968 the March Break replaced the Easter week holiday in Ontario. At first it came in the last week of March but later moved to the mid point where it now is. My Dad did not take the time off, very few parents could or did. I was in high school when the March Break debuted and as best as I can recall it was a week of total downtime. I slept in a lot. I watched the afternoon soap operas (The Doctors, Days of our Lives, Another World), and not much else. It was a good break from school. Was it fun? Well not wildly, but I did enjoy the open space. Family time? What's that?

When I had two children of my own in grade school, sleeping in remained a primary feature of the break. Added to that there were blanket forts in the living room, really good lunches at home, outdoor play, a choice or two at the video store and the reward of of trip to the movie theatre to see the latest family offering from Disney or Hollywood. It was all about family time at home even though my husband did not have the week off. He was invited to come play in the blanket fort when he got home. There was enough downtime to relax and recharge. It was a good week and it didn't break the bank.

March Break 2015 looks very different. All the advertising suggests that though it is a family time, it is to be enjoyed anywhere but home. There are opportunities near and far to fill every waking hour with every kind of activity. Much of it seems to assume that both parents have the time off and that money is no worry. Downtime? What's that?

I need my downtime in copious quantities. I always have. I am a true introvert married to a true introvert, with two introvert children. It's not good, it's not bad, it's who I am. Not everyone needs all the quiet that I do, but all of us at every age need some time to play by ourselves, away from the gadgets that ring and beep and flash and crash; away from bosses, parents, siblings and friends; away from oughts and shoulds; at home with who we are.

If you are one privileged to have the March Break off, I wish you and yours an all inclusive holiday - one where family time, fun and rest/downtime are in the quantities you truly need to return to the every day refreshed, renewed and happy.


©2015 April Hoeller

Monday, 9 March 2015

Monday Moanings - March 9, 2015

Pearls of Wisdom

So here's the thing - I have nothing to moan about today. No sad tale of misery demanding company; no body part on strike for less work, more assistance; and no ghastly weather forecast prophesying an apocalypse. 

It's a beautiful day in my neighbourhood! And it was preceded by a beautiful day with all our children. 

Here are the pearls of wisdom learned this weekend:

IF the red squirrel sees his shadow;

IF the goats stand as one;

IF the bunnies come out to play:

IF the horse kisses your hand;

IF you have lost an hour's sleep because the government said so;

Then Spring has Sprung!

Get out there and enjoy it!
(but don't take the snow tires off the car)

©2015 April Hoeller

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Thursday, or Thereabouts - March 5, 2015

Miles to Go

The travel bags have been taken out of storage and are now parked in the living room, awaiting deposits of software and hardware - clothing and gear. Every now and again an item gets tossed on them, at them, near them. An attempt to assure its inclusion in one of the bags. But of course, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. When it comes down to the final pack, some previously deemed essential items just don't make the cut.

The old blue-green travel pack, having passed the test pack with flying colours a few days ago, does have a secured reservation on this journey. It may look like just any old fabric suitcase, but unzip the backside and there's a sturdy backpack frame with all the requisite pads and harnesses.

This intrepid traveller could tell a tale or three about the places it's been. From atop a shelf at Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) in Toronto, this Canadian made rugged beauty began its adventures with me in 1996 with an epic family trip to Europe.

Vienna, Innsbruck, Munich, Koln, Amsterdam and London were followed in subsequent years by Mexico, St. Lucia, Alaska, and Spain before hibernating for a few years while newer luggage took up the duties. But the blue-green bag was never forgotten and when another epic journey came into view in 2008, it was once again pressed into service. This time it was a land and sea voyage via the Panama Canal to South America, including Nazca, Cusco, Machu Picchu then around Cape Horn to Buenos Aires.

Now here we are once again getting ready to head out on a trip of a lifetime, this time to Darwin's playground, the Galapagos Islands, and of course old faithful, the blue-green travel pack, will hold all - well most at least of my stuff. From wet suit, fins, mask and snorkel to drug bag and first aid kit; from collapsible trekking pole, bug spray and sunscreen to my clothes for three weeks and a bottle of biodegradable laundry detergent, all will find the perfect spot within the fabric grotto.

The sturdy zippers sing with delight as the old bag murmurs, "miles to go before I sleep; miles to go."

©2015 April Hoeller

Monday, 2 March 2015

Monday Moanings - March 2, 2015

Hello March sunshine!

March has eased her way in front of her frosty brother, coming like a lamb with blue skies and warmth (relatively speaking). Why yesterday the temperature outside my door dared to cross into plus territory, for a whole twenty minutes of jubilation. And today opened with just a SINGLE digit following the minus sign on my thermometer (-7°C). Warm enough for me to ditch my woolly toque, wrap around scarf and the mitts that go over my gloves, for my trip into town. Delightful!

I'm given to believe that there's a bit of weather nastiness on tap for Tuesday. No worries! March is like that - up and down, rain and snow, warm and cold, spring and winter. And right now the sun is shining, the sky is blue and it's just...

More than that, I've got travel on my mind. March is adventure month for us and the preparations have kicked into high gear. Yesterday I not only successfully completed a test pack of my backpack (complete with wetsuit, dive mask, snorkel and fins along with the usual),

but I also gagged back a booster dose of Dukoral®. The stuff is vile - tasting much like the pre-colonoscopy preparation concoctions - but of course the consequences of omitting this vaccine can be far more vile. So, down the hatch!

Tomorrow I'm off to the doc to get a script for some altitude sickness meds. Quito, where we begin and end our adventure, sits just above 2800m (9200 feet). This is not the kind of high my body enjoys - something I learned in Peru a few years ago. So, get the drugs.

Add them to the 'drug bag', which seems to grow with every new trip. Last year's China trek taught me about the importance of having medications that I know and recognise in my kit.

This little case is perfect for all those small containers and packages. Thanks to our son and daughter-in-law for giving it to us!

There's lots more stuff to do before departure - haircut, house cleaning, food for the resident house sitters, instructions for the house sitters (how to fire up the snow blower, how to set the house thermostat, how not to feed the pleading canine, and more), buy more sunscreen, write more ToDo lists, and so much more...  I'll keep you posted.

Make it a great week!

©2015 April Hoeller