Thursday, 28 July 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - July 28, 2016

Still Hot and Dry

What am I thinking today? Not much.

It's one of those days when thinking just isn't all it's cracked up to be, at least not from my seat in the world.

Too much to think about. Too hot to think. And all of it just too complicated.

So my friends, music is the answer. Good for whatever ails ya, music.

Beethoven is reverberating in my body and soul as I write this - the Ninth Symphony as only the Berlin Philharmonic can play it under the baton of the late Herbert von Karajan. Powerful stuff!

Perhaps later I'll leave the earth altogether to journey to out into space with Gustav Holst to tour The Planets,

...then slip back down to earth in time to restore my soul beside the still waters of evensong in Canterbury Cathedral.

Indeed, the perfect remedy for all that ails me this warm day.

Wherever you are today, may there be a gift of music. 

©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 25 July 2016

Monday Moanings - July 25, 2016

Life Under the Dome

No, not the the Stephen King sci-fi novel
     nor the spin off  TV series,
           but close, really close...

Oh wait -that might just be the air quality outside my door...

Sometime early in July, probably while we all were sleeping, a massive lid got plunked over a huge swath of North America.

We're sweltering in recycled hot air with little rain (yes there were some storms last night, but no relief from the heat) under a heat dome. Think of it as the flip side of the Polar Vortex.

So what's life like under the heat dome?
Well, it's hot. It's dry.
But life goes on.

I spend much of the day shuttered inside the house, blinds drawn to keep out the sun. I do my best to ignore the pulses of claustrophobia that try to con me into letting the light in the windows. A trip to the big box stores or the mall is good for relief, but not nearly so much fun as it was when I had kids in tow. In fact this time I was taken aback by the profoundly kid-unfriendly display just inside the doors of the local department store.

What a downer! It's still July! Not even the halfway point of the school holidays. Oh well I suppose the retail beat must go on. The snowsuits appeared at Costco® weeks ago and let there be no doubt, - it's way more cool to try on winter gear under the dome than to pick up school tools. Sheesh!

It's also way more cool to service the snow blower under the dome. At least that's what my love must have thought on weekend when he pulled the behemoth out the shed. Why else would he have delayed the end of season service from April until now?

But the #1 cool thing to do under the dome is BBQ!

Accompanied by appropriate libations of course!
And if this isn't enough cool for you, how about this:

Don't happy.

©2016 April Hoeller

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - July 21, 2016

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the A/C is so delightful.
And since we've no place to go,
Be it so, be it so, be it so...

As has been stated here many times in the past, I'm not a fan of hot weather. The 3-H's - hazy, hot and humid are not on my Christmas card list - maybe they should be?? I do know that there are folks out there for whom the ideal summer is an endless parade of sultry days where air temperatures soar past 30°C. To you hot bodies, I apologise for this blast of cold air.

When our children were young, a string of hot days brought challenges. Yes we had air conditioning in the house but after about three days of indoor life, the blanket forts, videos, and crafts lost their appeal and cabin fever soon raised my indoor temperature beyond tolerable. On those days, we made good an escape. If the budget permitted I'd take them to freeze in a movie theatre. There was something fun about bundling up to sit in a theatre when outside a t-shirt was too warm. There were giggles galore along with occasional complaints about cold noses.

Most often, we headed to the cool Mall. Again out came the jackets. I had rules of course - no fighting, or screaming. Violations were punishable by immediate departure for all. That only happened once. For the most part these excursions were cheap entertainment - there was always something new to see - and mmmarvellous mmmuffins® (as the shop was known back then), was always good for a snack. The biggest, most exciting discussion was about what muffins to take home for Daddy.

The mall outing always included some small toy, craft, colouring book and maybe even brand new crayons or markers from Lewiscraft (no longer a retailer).  And sometimes there was even lunch out in the food court. Then with muffins and nick knacks and smiles we headed home, where there were homemade popsicles, lemonade and rest before supper. Then it was off to the baseball diamond or soccer pitch, and sometimes both depending on which child was playing when.

Those were the days!

The best kind of 3-H days - Happy, Healthy, Home 

©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 18 July 2016

Monday Moanings - July 18, 2016

Audacious Hope

The past days,

have been filled with news of violence, terror, anxiety, anger, retribution, shock, sorrow and death. I began to cringe every time a news alert was announced from my cell phone. I have now disabled those shouts which entice me to come, see, hear the latest horrors of the world.

This is not me burying my head in the sand, but rather me choosing to enter this new week with an audacious, wild and stubborn hope. A tenacious hope which insists on kindness, confidence, trust, empathy, forgiveness, joy, peace and life.

Such hope is courageous. It is deeply embedded in the very heart of each and every one of us, encouraging, goading, pushing, always seeking a way around and beyond every obstacle. How else would we have survived this long on earth?

As the world begins anew
             each month,

                  Hope whispers - 
There is a better way...

Come with me into this new week. 
Together let's go wild with hope - audacious, courageous, enduring hope.

"Courage, my friends; 'Tis not too late to build a better world." 

©2016 April Hoeller

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - July 14, 2016

My ice cream is melting...

Road tar is melting.

Electricity usage is skyrocketing.
Train rails are in danger of buckling.
Temperature records are breaking.

And I'm working up to a feverish discussion of these malevolent "3H's" - Hazy, Hot, and Humid.

I told you so! It told you this day would come, five months ago.

With a little reverse engineering here's how some of that post from February might read today:

Yet another sinister stifling mass of tropical air has propelled heat indices (temperature + humidity) into the 40's C.

Remember this sweltering heat when the weather patterns reverse engines and exhale ice crystals.

And just in case you've forgotten what that looks like, here are a few gentle reminders.
Think of this as a breath of fresh air;
nostril-sticking, breath-catching, snow-squeaking, hot water vapourizing, fresh air!

Doesn't that feel better?


©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 11 July 2016

Monday Moanings - July 11, 2016

Bring it On!

I've been feeling really good lately. In fact most of my days now I would peg at 8/10 on my well being scale. That's way better than I've felt in over a year. I've been walking at a clip of  a 17 minute mile (10.6 minute kilometre), which is a pretty snazzy pace for a 63 year old, nine weeks after major pelvic surgery.

Why even just yesterday I tackled a modest forest hike of 3.6km in just under 40 minutes.

Forest Hike analysis -

I am so ready to get back to the gym, to get moving again:
lat pull downs, squats, kickbacks, curls, lifts, and heart pounding cardio.

Bring it on!

So with Abba's Super Trouper playing in my head I skipped in to see the physiotherapist at my gym this morning. Too bad my transversus abdominus muscle  was not nearly as ready as I was to get back at it. After a thorough assessment I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not to darken the doorway of the gym -well not yet anyway. In the meantime I have a few simple core exercises to do to get this deep abdominal muscle up to snuff and if I do this homework diligently, next Monday I'll get more exercises to tone up those ab muscles.

Aw shucks! I am disappointed but also feeling assured that this is the right path. I really don't want to have the surgical reconstruction undone by a bit of recklessness on my part. 
So slow and steady it is, one core group at a time. 

                Bring it On!

©2016 April Hoeller

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - July 7, 2016

The Heat is ON!

And throughout the land an all too familiar whine can be heard, "Mommeeeeeey, I'm bor ...or...ord!" It rang out in the shops and the parking lots just five days into the summer break. Twisting and turning behind grocery carts, red-faced foot-stomping kids wound up their mums who were just trying to get the weekly shopping done. Clearly for some it's going to be a very long hot summer.

When I was a kid, July heat was fertile ground for boredom. Yeah, we had that backyard pool, but you know the grass is always greener elsewhere. I envied my pals who spent the summer at cottages by cool shining lakes in Muskoka or Haliburton. It seemed to me that all the cool kids had places up north, on a lake with tall trees and big rocks and boats and fishing and all day swimming. They had non-stop fun I was sure. Come September there'd be tales of fishing derbies, water skiing, boat races, swimming competitions and campfires that lasted long into the night.

BUT then came August and the annual trip to the beach. Talk about a long commute! This one involved taxis and planes and a foreign country! My mother's family had a cottage on Long Island, New York. Perhaps you've heard of  "The Hampton's" -well not there, but rather a more modest community on the southernmost tip, just east of Manhattan, called Breezy Point. Sadly the Point is now famous for the great fire spawned by Hurricane Sandy back in the Fall of 2012. The storm unleashed an inferno that turned to ashes every cottage in the wedge, the old original Breezy Point, including the cottage of my childhood. But memories are forever and there are photos too!


It was always and adventure every year to make the trek to 147 Oceanside. We always dressed up in our fancy duds because in those days air travel was fancy stuff. From Toronto we flew TCA (Trans Canada Airlines, later Air Canada) to New York's Idlewild (later JFK) airport on a Vickers Viscount or Vanguard prop job, a flight that took about ninety minutes.

The cottage was far from grand but I didn't mind. At Breezy we had the Atlantic Ocean, with waves great for body surfing contests and getting clobbered by a big one was as thrilling as it was humbling. We had the best beach in the world - white sand that stretched for miles.

Mom & I - August 1969

On a hot day, the walk from the end of the boardwalk to the firm sand near the water's edge was ... well hot, sole burning hot. And it's not easy to walk quickly on shifting sand carrying all the beach gear - big umbrella, chairs, tarp, food basket (containing pop tins wrapped in tin foil, sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper and all full of sand anyway), and towels.

We had life guards on the beach, tall bronzed men in bright red swim trunks who sat atop blue life guard stands, or sometimes underneath them in the shade, whistle at the ready.


We had parties - fancy hat, and card parties at Christ Community Church (Auntie Lilian always won 'The Basket of Cheer', the one full of booze), fashion jewellery parties and clothing sales (Aunt Lilian hosted and gave the profits to charity).

There were friends and neighbours who were always thrilled to welcome the 'Canadian Invasion' each August. One was president of a large bakery in Brooklyn that catered to the Jewish market. When he came to visit he always brought a huge paper sack, almost as tall as eight year old me, filled with breads (pumpernickel and light rye), rolls and chocolate donuts. He was the biggest man I'd ever seen - quite tall but also quite wide - and his shoes were the biggest shoes I'd ever seen - must have been six inches wide and fifteen long. As big as he and they were, his heart was bigger. He spoke slowly, thoughtfully and everybody listened.


We had doctors that made their rounds on motor scooters and delivery boys that rode bikes, front baskets loaded with bottles from the liquor store and prescriptions from the drug store. We had cops who drove around in jeeps equipped with big tires to get through the sand.  AND, we had a volunteer fire department (Point Breeze Volunteer Fire Department), with trucks with names like 'Big Jack' and 'Sand Flea'. When the big air raid type siren went off summoning fire and/or ambulance crews, it also summoned at least half the beach residents including us.

Late one night a fire started in the hardware store off of Market Street, opposite the drug store and we all trooped out to have a look. Dad carried a big red flashlight. He managed to make himself look so official that the fire crew from Brooklyn (they had to cross the Marine Parkway Bridge to get to Breezy, so were always late on the scene) asked Dad,  "Is it all right if we set up over here?" Dad mumbled something and waved his red flashlight around a bit before discreetly disappearing into the crowd.

It was more than just curiosity that got us up and out. Even in the 1960's and 70's the adults knew well the danger a fire presented in an enclave of 50+ year old clapboard cottages. But for us kids, it was just another great adventure.


We had ferries that we could ride from Rockaway Point to Breezy for free, or take to Sheepshead Bay to check out the catch from the fishing fleet then chow down cherrystone clams on the half shell at Joe's Clam Bar. From there, a subway took us into Manhattan - the United Nations, Times Square, Battery Park, the Staten Island Ferry, and the Statue of Liberty all there to behold. We had fireworks - well of course actually Coney Island had the fireworks, but we could see them from the bayside.

Mom & Auntie Lilian, Sheepshead Bay 1967
We had the best pizza ever at a real soda fountain store that was just beside the grocery store. We had Ebinger's crumb cake! The competition for the crumbs is the stuff of family legend. Mom bought real butter. The steak, chicken and fish (fresh from the Sheepshead Bay fleet) all tasted better. We had the best food ever at Breezy Point.

Dad & I - August 1969

And come September I'd have tales of planes, boats, ocean waves, and seashells. I'd have stories about eating lunch beside the ocean and also in the Delegate's Dining Room at the United Nations. I'd talk about chasing fire engines though the sand in middle of the night.

Boardwalks, splinters, hot sand and sunburns. My God, it was grand!

©2016 April Hoeller