Thursday, 30 April 2015

Thursday, or Thereabouts - April 30, 2015

Spring has Sprung!
The grass is rizz.
I wonder where the wood truck is?

I heard it before I saw it, air breaks huffing and sighing as the familiar white truck rolled in from the highway. John, from John's Firewood has the routine down pat. In one fluid movement he backs his rig in from the road, lines it up with the woodshed, stopping in the perfect spot.

Then he tips the bucket. With a might roar 3 bush cords of split hardwood tumble out. He pulls the rig forward, gives the bucket a good thump or three to shake any last bits out and pulls back onto the driveway. Job Done in under three minutes!

Every wondered what 384 cubic feet of firewood looks like?

It will take my love and I twenty hours or more to stack it. Ten days of fair weather at 2 hours per day - because we do have other things to do!

"Why?" I can hear you asking. Why go to all this effort every year when we could just use the gas furnace more? Fair question.

Because we've always done it? Actually in our pioneer days when we first lived here, we got full length logs which we then cut to length, split and stacked.

1985 with Sheba, the first of our furry pawed kids

We shift 5+ tons of wood every year because it's something we do together, like travelling... ?
Okay, so that might be a bit of a stretch, but we do enjoy working together on a task, as long as it doesn't involve wallpaper.

We do it because we both have a passion for making order out of chaos? There is a certain satisfaction to be found in neatly stacked firewood, a great sense of accomplishment.

(For the record: we are not heating off the avails of a forest clear cutting operation. Of this we are sure.)

We do it because we love a good fire (in it's proper place of course!) when all outside is howling with snow and cold. Seriously, one can't really cosy up to the gas furnace like one can a wood stove, hands outstretched to receive the gift of warmth.

But wait - it's Spring, not winter, and Spring has sprung.
The wood truck has come and gone.
The frost is out of the ground and the birds are singing.
And the Kentucky Derby is this weekend!

Let's get out there!

©2015 April Hoeller

Monday, 27 April 2015

Monday Moanings - April 27, 2015

It was a simple thing really...

Hidden in the depths of the earth two great forces banging and crashing up against one another. One slipped a bit. The earth shuddered. The pressure was released. The Kathmandu Valley heaved and rumbled. It was all quite simple. All quite natural.

I cannot possibly bring myself to moan about anything in my life this day, when half a world away in Nepal there is so much destruction and death. Lives have been lost, lives have been overturned, lives have been changed forever on a scale I struggle to comprehend. I spent much of the morning trolling through umpteen books from my professional church days, searching for something appropriate to offer, some  compassionate turn of phrase that would be of comfort. I found only trite, sometimes offensive, empty words.

But a troll through some of the news feeds offered me something of note:

If I saw no one stopping to help, not one person risking their own life to save someone else; if I saw no communities rushing to provide aid; if I saw not a dollar offered from the hands of the rich; if I saw not a single relief agency spring into action, saw no one offer the suffering human kindness and compassion; if I saw no First World nation reaching out to offer help, aid, and expertise, then I would have something to moan about, something worthy of lament on this Monday.

But that's not what I saw this morning. I saw nations, I see my Canada, responding with expertise and money. I saw relief organisations, some on the ground in Nepal already, others mobilising aid. I saw people at their best giving to others who are not at their best.

Help + Hope.

It's a simple thing, really.

©2015 April Hoeller

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thursday, or Thereabouts - April 23, 2015

Spring 2015- Trying and Very Trying

Yesterday on my drive into town I was drawn into the enchanting music of Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" Is there any more appropriate music for Earth Day? I don't think so. Bubbling joy, insistent hope, and awesome wonder seem to dance together.

Is there any more appropriate music for Spring in southern Ontario struggling to assert itself? Don't think so either. Tentative delight, sour setbacks and heartfelt desire move forward in a steadfast march, Spring chanting, "I think I can, I think I can..."

But it is a gift to be simple, as the old Shaker hymn reminds me:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right
                                   Joseph Brackett (1797 - 1882)

And speaking of simple, I'm going to spend the rest of this day curled up by the fire, tea at my left and pen in my write hand while Spring tries once again to overcome winter.

©2015 April Hoeller

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Thursday, or Thereabouts - April 16, 2015

Spring Thaw 2015 - An Escape to Write

It's a busy day - a good, busy day for me. I'm getting my stuff together to head off on a writing retreat. Five days of open space, as structured or unstructured as I need; in the company of other writers or on my own, in my jammies; lakeside cottages with no meals to plan, prepare or clean up after; and all under the "care-full" wings of two very capable writers, Ruth Walker and Gwynn Scheltema.

from Spring Thaw 2012
from Spring Thaw 2012

I have a delicious optimism about this escape to write, yet I have no idea what will be produced. I learned some time ago not to encumber my muse(s) with expectations and rigid goals. Will the memoirist return to pick up the threads of the story about her mother and Alzheimer's Disease? Will the travel writer, fresh from the Galapagos Islands, fill the pages with a journey of amazement? Will the former pastor give voice to the challenges of the job, the stories of faith, hope and love; fear, despair and betrayal? Or, is there another story in the shadows, waiting to be inked?

I told you, it was exciting! And omg - what if they all show up at the same time to collaborate on a story?

... a woman and her memory impaired mother search for meaning on The Enchanted Islands in the Pacific Ocean. One by one a blue footed booby, a flightless cormorant, and a dog named Diego join in the adventure, a trek that takes them along white sandy beaches, across gigantic black lava fields, into a rainforest dripping with colour, then up to the rim of a volcano. They seek the old giant tortoise - only he knows the way out of the tangled dementia forest...
What fun! It matters not to me which of my muses joins me during these luxurious days, or what she writes. The welcome mat is out for any and all. The pens are full. The paper fresh and inviting. I can hardly wait!

from Spring Thaw 2012

©2015 April Hoeller

Monday, 13 April 2015

Monday Moanings - April 13, 2015

Catch Up?

The masks, fins, snorkels and wetsuits have been thoroughly cleansed and hang drying in the laundry room in silent testimony of ocean adventures. The souvenirs have been sorted and distributed in remembrance far away lands. And all the photos have been uploaded to the server awaiting editing and a story teller.

I'm tired and sputtering with a cold that was probably caught on a plane as we made our way home from the exotic to the ordinary. I think I'll take a little more time to savour my return to ordinary time, rather than launching myself head first into every day. I'm going to try to ignore the exponential growth of a To Do list - winter's belated departure has uncovered a debris field where lawns and garden are meant to be; welcome warmth and sunshine have incited windows and screens to cry out for cleaning; and, then there's a wedding in just 96 days and this mother of the bride needs a dress and shoes (What? I can't wear my running shoes?) and patience.

But first, this old girl needs to recover from her vacation.
Then lose 10 pounds.
Then write a travel blog.
Then complete the first draft of the memoir.

©2015 April Hoeller

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Thursday, or Thereabouts - April 9, 2015

The Eagle has landed - back home again.

After 20 days away from my desk, away from my kitchen, away from my bed, I have returned  to my place in the universe. It is good to be home; to have all my stuff at hand - except for the few kitchen things that the house sitters moved. It is really good to be sleeping in my own bed again. No matter where my love and I have travelled, both near and far, both the ordinary and exotic, the challenging and the intriguing, I am always happy to arrive back home. 

The latest adventure took us to Ecuador in South America, both the mainland (Quito) and the Islands of the Galapagos. Though one of the shortest treks in recent years, the pace was high with new sights and sounds not just every day, but around every corner. Over 4000 digital pictures survived the first click of the delete key to document our journey. I'd like to suggest a new app for digital cameras, one that warns me that I have already taken 352 pictures of blue footed boobies, or giant tortoises or whatever, and that I need not take any more. While the software wizards puzzle that one out, I will spend the next weeks cataloguing, editing and re-living a most remarkable experience. Slowly but surely...

I love to travel. I love to come home, laundry and all. I'm grateful to live in a place where I'm not drenched in sunscreen infused sweat all day (it was 35°C with 60% humidity every day); where the Internet speed is faster than dial-up (remember those days?); where there is more grass than black lava field; and, where there is an ebb and flow in the hours of daylight (in the equatorial zone the sun rises just after 6am and sets just after 6pm every day of the year).  

And Schwartz? The ever-enthusiastic, compliant travel mascot is happy to be home too. He can rest and dry out. 

©2015 April Hoeller