Friday, 29 January 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - FRIDAY January 29, 2016

Deja vu!

Once again, The Thursday post is late! That's two weeks in a row, but who's counting? Well me actually. It's not my fault this time - no affliction of laziness, apathy or writer's block. Just loss of connectivity.

We live in the rural routes and though on a clear day I can see the towers of Toronto from the hill top just south of home, internet access is hit and miss. And high speed is a relative thing. Yesterday afternoon the network went down for a bit - the bit I had scheduled for the blog write. And this morning was stuffed full of places to go and things to do, so here it is late Friday!
Once again better late than never...

While my love was lecturing some 150 graduate engineering students yesterday morning, I strolled "The Mink Mile" - that stretch of Bloor Street between Yonge and Avenue Road in downtown Toronto.

Thank goodness there's no charge for window shopping!

This Maserati graced the window of Holt Renfrew - Men. Why anyone would even consider having one of these in a part of the world that has winter is beyond me. Maybe that's why it was behind the glass?

These shoes made up for the lack of sun...

... and there was so much more to feast my eyes upon. Gucci, Hermes, Guerlain and more

When I was a little girl the Christmas windows at Simpson's and Eaton's were the be all and end all. Store window design has become a year round extravaganza it seems. The 'wow' is everywhere.

But my true destination was the Royal Ontario Museum - the ROM.

Since forever, this landmark has ranked in the top five of my favourite Toronto places. It's open invitation to wander and wonder is as enthralling to me as it was to my eight year old self some fifty-five years ago. It's a timeless gem whose original entrance on Queen's Park remains jaw-drop gorgeous.

Beyond the Murano glass mosaic rotunda two great totems keep watch over all who pass.

Come wander and wonder with me, through the rotunda and past the totem sentries. This isn't a grand tour, just a stroll past some old familiar places.

Deja vu - all over again.

©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 25 January 2016

Monday Moanings - January 25, 2016

Going with the Flow

I was having trouble settling on what to write today. As is my usual practice when a number of candidates are trying to push themselves to the front of the line, I stepped away from the laptop to take up my fountain pen for wisdom.

image courtesy of Laywine's

I must tell you that there's a new kid in my handwriting collection, a Christmas present from my love. Actually he gave me a gift card and together we headed into Toronto, to Laywine's.

OMG if you love writing by hand, if you long for the feel and flow of a good pen, then this is the store for you, (but perhaps not for your credit card). Not only is there a magnificent array of fine writing instruments, there are also journals and stationery, many specifically crafted for the fountain pen of your dreams. Add to this, an eye-popping selection of inks from around the world and you know that you have arrived in handwriting heaven.

I brought along my trusty Parker Sonnet (in the first picture at the top of page), the workhorse of so many of my hand-inked words. I told the staff that I was looking to upgrade. The young man behind the counter happily obliged, but not before asking me a host of questions about my writing habits. He presented several pens for me to test drive. Weight, balance, ink flow, nib size were all tested before I settled on Lamy 2000, a piece of  impeccable engineering.

Enough already with the drooling over a pen! Time to get writing, BUT where is my journal book, the one with paper made especially to receive ink from a medium nib without scratching or bleeding? I can't possibly just use any old blank piece of paper! It took a full twenty minutes of turning my spaces upside down and more than a few expletives before the trim blue volume revealed itself. Ahhhh ... now to the writing.

Balanced perfectly in my write hand, my fingers cradling the smooth slim body, I gently pressed the tip to the page. Words were delivered to paper with just the right amount of ink and the page received them with grace, spelling mistakes and all!

Happy Monday - it's the last one this month and it's also Robbie Burns Day! 

Lang may yer lum reek!

©2016 April Hoeller  

Friday, 22 January 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - January 22, 2016

But it's FRIDAY!

Yes. Yes. Yes, I know. But some days the words don't form sentences. Some days the ideas fail to blossom. Some days the photos won't come together to make a story. And then are days when all three are no-shows. That's what happened yesterday.

I fussed and fumed, whined and whimpered, sighed and snorted. For five hours I struggled to make something work. Then I just gave up. Guilt rushed in to bolster the sense of defeat. Reason took a bit longer to show up - a bit too long in my opinion! - to rescue me from the gloom.  I mean seriously, how awful is it that I did not write a blogpost yesterday? Get a life woman!

I wasted half a day spinning my tires, churning up nothing but despair. For what earthly or even heavenly good? How clever was that? And lest you think that this is going to be nothing but a tedious tale of self-recrimination...

That was Yesterday!

And this is Today. This is FRIDAY!

Though a smidgen of guilt remains over yesterday's wasteland, immobility and its buddy frustration have left the building. Alleluia! And you know what? I've had a good week, minus the one small blot on the landscape.

My love and I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Surely I've not aged as much as Leia, Hans and Luke have? I'm more like Chewbacca - a little rough around the edges but ageless. Right?

Also this week I enjoyed a lovely lunch with friend, discovering new to us, Japanese restaurant. I got caught up on my correspondence (translation: I cleaned up my email). Then I had a kick-butt workout at the gym.  And, AND I did get two blogposts written!

A steaming cappuccino begins my day today. Sole Meuniere is on the menu for supper tonight...

"It was “perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley… I closed my eyes and inhaled the rising perfume. Then I lifted a forkful of fish to my mouth… The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvellously with the browned butter… It was a morsel of perfection… It was the most exciting meal of my life.” - from Julia Child's My Life in France

...with small rounds of boiled potato speckled with fresh parsley and a just to mix things up a little, a Thai Mango salad. Dessert? Well, Une Tarte aux Pommes of course. There is a fine bottle of Chardonnay from Thirty Bench Wine Makers chilling in the fridge.

And me? I'm just chillin' too.
Bon appetit!

©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 18 January 2016

Monday Moanings - January 18, 2016

Blue Monday?

So apparently today has the notoriety of being the most depressing day of the year. Unless of course it's next Monday. There is some disagreement here on which day exactly Blue Monday falls. Most claim it is the third Monday in January -- that would be today --  while others say it is the Monday of the last full week in January -- that would be next Monday, the 25th.
I think I'm getting a headache...

The theory is that late in the first month of the new year, the hype and hoopla machine that propelled us through 6+ weeks of the Christmas/New Year season, has finally run out of gas, AND the credit card bills detailing the excesses of those weeks have arrived.

Ah, but a little research reveals the real truth about Blue Monday. It's origins date back to 2005 when Sky Travel in the UK wanted to drum up January business. They called in a prof at Cardiff University and he developed an equation to calculate the most depressing day of the year.

Interestingly, it turned out to be in January! The idea caught on, along with the remedy: spend more money!

The retail industry loved it and we bought it hook, line and sinker.

Last year, neuroscientist Dean Burnett called a spade a spade: "This claim is incorrect. It is unscientific. It is pseudo scientific. It is uber-scientific." His rant in the Guardian put in no uncertain terms:
"... is it really the most depressing day of the year?
No, no, no.
No. Na. Nein. Non. Nyet. Mhai. Illai. Não. Nee. Ne. Nope. Negatory. Nada. No way, Jose. Nil. Nu. Nie. Bu Dui. Iie. Nem. Nullus. Nej. Neen. And, in case any Klingons are reading this, Ghobe!"
There is no scientific evidence to support a Blue Monday in January, or a Blue Wednesday in October, or any other day of the year.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) does have some credibility in the world of science and medicine. For some of us, this time of year just doesn't bring enough hours of daylight to keep us merry and bright. But have you noticed that both 7am and 5pm are showing a little more light than a few weeks ago? The light is returning!

The sun where you live may not appear as a great fireball in the sky today, but it is still up there and rising a little bit higher each day.

Where there are shadows, there is light...

It's time to smile and kick off into a new week!
May there be enough light for all of us to enjoy.
Have a good one.

©2016 April Hoeller

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - January 14, 2016

Tired of Winter, Already?

But it's only just begun! Yet to hear some TV presenters tell it, Old Man Winter has unleashed a grueling succession of trials and tribulations to be battled, endured, and survived. And omg people, brace yourselves - there is more to come!

Well of course there's more to come - it's winter in Canada. We get snow. It can make roads slick and reduce visibility. It can disrupt schedules and plans. It can freeze locks on storage sheds like mine.

Which yesterday meant that the snowblower sat high and dry behind locked doors while...

"Woman over 60 forced to move mountain of snow from driveway using only a shovel!"

No, NO, NO

There was nothing sensational about clearing 10cm of white fluffy flakes off the driveway. It was frustrating that I couldn't get the shed open, and there were a few expletives in the air. But it was hardly the end of the world. I was not trapped in my house, nor was I struggling. I did get a great workout and few sore muscles to show for it along with a neat and tidy driveway.

It's winter.

Time to break out the Nanook of the North equipment -
     toque/tuque, mitts, boots, parka, sunglasses and scarf;
          snow brushes, ice scrapers, candles and matches/igniters;
               shovels and snow-scoops;
                    skis, skates, snowshoes, and snowboards.

It's winter. Make it fun!

©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 11 January 2016

Monday Moanings - January 11, 2016

Better Late than Never

Winter has arrived and if the forecasters have it right, the old seasonal sibling is all set to stay a while. Well it's about time I say! After a November and December of record-breaking warmth, January has invited Winter to set the record straight, And Winter has been happy to oblige.

Yesterday morning's pouring rain and balmy temperatures (7°C) gave way to snow just after 3pm. Howling winds brought trees and temperatures low; -3 by 6pm and by 6:45 the power was out.

Tacos by Candlelight

Bravo to the intrepid HydroOne crews who braved the savage winds and cold to restore electrical power.
Bravo to roads department whose operators worked late into the night.
Bravo to all emergency services personnel - police, fire, ambulance, and even tow truck drivers who braved the elements.
Bravo Winter!

What? Is this woman insane? Why?
Because all those May flowers we so love to see, need winter's chill and snow as much as the April Showers we long to sing about.

So let's mosey along with winter's visit, knowing that as surely as it arrived, it will leave.

Bring on the snowplows, salters and sanders. 
Fire up the snowblowers, woodstoves, and stewpots. 

Come, rest, cozy in winter's embrace.

©2016 April Hoeller

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - January 7, 2016

Undoing Christmas

It seems to me that the entire month of January is consumed by undoing much of what was done in December.

From twinkling lights to festive tables;

from Christmas trees, both real and artificial, to crystal stars and crafted angels;

from candles and creche to shepherds and a trio of late magi (they only just arrived yesterday!);

from cookies to waistbands; all in their own way must give way to the new year.

Empty of the razzle dazzle that powered December days, a hodgepodge of resolutions
 - to do more, to do less; to be more, to be less - 
rush in to fill the void in life's fuel tank. 

January is just not fun!


just for today,

in solidarity with our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters for whom this day is Christmas,

let there be one more rousing chorus of Hark the Herald Angels Sing!

In celebration with my daughter-in-law and her family,
        let there be one more lighting of the tree and the Christmas candle,
one more heart to heart and hand to hand.

Let there be one more
Merry Christmas!

Srećan Božić
Hristos se rodi

 ©2016 April Hoeller