Monday, 26 September 2016

Monday Moanings - September 26, 2016

All my bags are packed...

A cool wet nose presses up against my bed warm face. "Mommy, I saw the suitcases. You're leaving on a jet plane. I don't know when you'll be back again."

Poor puppy. The resident canine doesn't quite understand time. She gives me one of those 'omg you've been gone so long whole body wiggle greetings' even if I've only been gone twenty minutes.

Ahh well, she gets to stay in her own home. The house sitters are here and Sophie has already over-written all my dog care instructions with her own - more treats, more walks, more treats, more treats.

This 79 pound German Shepherd - Alaskan Malamute will not starve. She'll sleep in her own bed every night and get lots of lovies - but not quite as many treats as she would like.

And the travelers? Well we'll be fine too. With Schwartz von Bear in charge of the tours, adventure is always assured.

Time to go. See y'all back here in three weeks or so.
Be well.

©2016 April Hoeller

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - September 22, 2016

A Sea of Scribbled Post-It Notes

While I'm in danger of being clobbered by the ever-faster swirling tether ball of things to do before Monday's flight overseas, Schwartz sits calmly atop my backpack ready to go. His packing is done. Seasoned traveller that he is, he really knows how to pack light! Actually he just really knows how to choose the best sherpas.

With just four (4, FOUR!!) days to go until departure, 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. Of course I make those predictions every time we travel.

Each adventure teaches me how to pack less clothing. Coordinating pieces, washable, crushable, rollable are de rigueur. But with the turn of the age clock past the 60 mark, the medicine bag keeps expanding with every year. The trip to China in 2014 taught me a tough lesson: always travel with the over the counter medications I know work for me. Prescription meds, of course, are never optional. So the little pharmacy store in a kit bag needs an expansion.

What would truly ease the space problem would be have pill bottles that were actually more full than empty. We're told it's important to have meds in original bottles with original labels. Well that's no longer just for customs and border control folks. With so many capsules and pills at hand, it's hard (and maybe dangerous!) for me to remember what's what based solely on size, shape and colour. So the meds bag has acquired a pup trailer.

Notice: neither one is packed - yet!

All part of growing up. AND going on adventures!

This one will take us to Berlin just in time for Oktoberfest (Schwartz is very excited about that!), then on to Barcelona for four days including a side trip to Montserrat, an evening tapas tour and visit to Sagrada Familia. Then we board a ship to cruise around Spain (Granada/The Alhambra) and out past Gibraltar to Cadiz/Seville and then Funchal, Madeira before laying in a course due west to Bermuda. From there on to New York City, entering the same port my European ancestors did when they first set foot in North America some 175 years ago. An epic journey for them and indeed for me too.

I gotta get back on track with the mighty ToDo list. I'll let you know Monday how I fare.

Happy Autumn!

©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 19 September 2016

Monday Moanings - September 19, 2016

The Great Escape

Schwartz von Bear is at it again - nose twitching, in anticipation of another great adventure...

A week today he and his human companions head off to Germany and Spain then a transatlantic cruise to the port of New York City.

Schwartz knows how to prepare for these treks - simply sit on top of the luggage in the living room. His mere presence there telegraphs a ToDo list a mile long.

But I know the tasks - I've been globetrotting with Schwartz for a while. It's a joy, an extravaganza of anticipation and then discovery where the unexpected is often the greatest pleasure. It's also a lot of work - not just planning and packing but briefing the house sitters and getting in supplies for their stay.

And that's where I'm off to today - shopping for the supplies and few other odds and ends.

Moaning? Goodness there's no time for that. I'm already in my wagon set to kick off downhill into the week.

You have a great week.
I'll catch up with you Thursday, or thereabouts.

©2016 April Hoeller

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - September 15, 2016

The Last Days of Summer

According the ancient authorities - the sun, the moon and the stars - it is still summer in the northern hemisphere, and will be for another...

...or less by the time this post is published.

Though change is certainly in the wind with temperatures at the 20°C mark today, a murmur of colour in the trees and an ever-shrinking number of daylight hours, let's not be so quick to dismiss Summer 2016. Let her linger as long as she will. I suspect she still has a lot to say.

Enjoy these images from her 2016 album.


©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 12 September 2016

Monday Moanings - September 12, 2016

I am serious bummed out this Monday Moaning

My wagon sits at the top of this week waiting for its occupant to get in and push off into what looks like a fine and glorious September Monday. BUT where is she?

Well she's moaning and groaning on the sidelines. The week doesn't feel as good on the inside as it looks on the outside - oh nothing serious, just inconvenient, uncalled for, annoying roadblocks. The first one popped up yesterday morning.

External hard drive failure - the hard drive with all our photos on it. This is not a catastrophic failure. I am married to a techno wizard, aka Gandalf the Grey, who knows a thing or three. He had set up a weekly status check on this hard drive. A week ago it reported "no fault found" but yesterday morning at 8am error conditions were reported and by 10am the hard drive was toast.

All is not lost. My man, the wizard also sees to it that backups are run every week. So the photos are not lost, just not as readily accessible.

No big deal. I'll just have to recycle photos from past blog posts.

But it is a pain.

And speaking of pain...

I have been very careful about my return to full activity after pelvic surgery in May. I spent weeks in physio to ensure that my core and particularly my abdominals were brought back to strength in an orderly and prudent manner. Too bad I didn't apply the same caution to my ankles.

 I have highly mobile joints. The good news is that this gives me quite a bit of flexibility. The bad news is that it puts quite a bit of strain on tendons and ligaments, particularly those in my feet. Orthotics are de rigueur.

I was awake much of last night with an all too familiar aching pain. Tendonitis strikes AGAIN. This is the fourth time, or maybe even the fifth bout, though never quite in the same place. I'm an equal opportunity kind of person, so sometimes it's the tibialis tendons, sometimes the flexors, sometimes both, and now it's probably the Achilles. Always the inflammation is the result of overuse, over training, doing too much, too fast. You'd think I'd learn. I've had years of practice!

Despite a hard drive and a body in recovery mode, I'm going to get into my wagon and inch my way forward along the week. I'll wave to you as you pass me by. I'll be the one doing the snail's pace in a wagon stocked with ice packs - but no pictures please.

©2016 April Hoeller

Friday, 9 September 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - September 9, 2016

Or Thereabouts...

Nothing like a couple of days away to put me weeks behind.

We returned home from our annual Niagara wine trip (Part 2) early Sunday afternoon. Having enjoyed 48 (and a bit) idyllic hours in the land of wine, the week ahead looked normal and organized - a place for everything and everything in it's place. But then there was the unpacking of the car, the manual irrigation of the gardens (still no substantial rain here), followed by the phone mail, the email and the laundry.

Add in the Labour Day holiday Monday and my organized week disintegrated into a real muddle; a muddle made so much worse by this wretched heat and humidity - it was 35°C on Wednesday!

Oh and then I had to make meals again! No printed menus to peruse, no ice water shimmering in fine glassware, no gleaming cutlery, no executive chef, no amazing son and wife to cook up brekkie or supper, no prep staff, and no artistry on a plate.

Just me, throwing leftover turkey, greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers into a big salad bowl, ladling on the extra virgin olive oil along with a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, then mounding it all on a plate in some ill fated attempt at presentation craft.

Perhaps a handful of pumpkin seeds and bacon bits, real bacon bits might help? Bacon always helps!

Oh heck - nothing a pour of a Niagara Chardonnay Musque in a bit of Riedel® crystal can't fix.

But now it's Friday -


A day that began with a lovely leisurely massage morphed into a morning swept away by grocery shopping, a trip to the Zephyr Organics farm for our weekly supply of veggies followed by the unpacking, washing and storage of the luscious fruit of the earth.

Is it nap time yet? Nope, it's time to get a blog post out!

For the record, and because I know you all are just dying to know, the stock at 6 Niagara wineries has been depleted by 79 bottles. See I told you we were cutting back!

Oh wait, there was also the wine trip back in August - The Niagara Wine trip Part 1- which netted 30 bottles from 2 wineries.

109 bottles?! Oh my!

About half of  the recent acquisitions - awaiting cataloguing and a place to lie down in the cellar.

I'm so glad we cut back this year...

©2016 April Hoeller

Monday, 5 September 2016

Monday Moanings - Labour Day, September 5, 2016

A Harvest of Gratitude and Love


Forty-one years ago today I was enjoying the last day of my life as a single woman, or as read in the banns of marriage, "a spinster of this parish."

All of 22 years old and already a spinster. Imagine that!

The old church language would seem to have credited me with far more experience than I actually had.

I was still living at home in 1975 and like my older sister before me and my younger after me, I went directly from my parents' home to married life. In 1975 that's the way it was for many women. 

I never thought for a moment that I was missing out on an integral piece of life - making it on my own in the world. I was thrilled to be marrying my high school sweetheart, the love of my life. The wonderful world lay before us and we wanted to live it together.

We still do.

Forty-one years ago my boyfriend and I went out on our last date as singles. The midnight curfew was still in effect but I scared the bejeezus out my folks by returning home at ten.

The colour slowly drained from Mom's face and Dad walked toward me, arms outstretched, "Everything all right, dear?"

"Yup, everything is perfect.
And it still is.

Look how we've grown! July 18, 2015

So no moaning here today.

Today is a day of rest.
Today is a day of gratitude for the work and workers who keep this country functioning.
Today is a day of celebration of freedom:
                the freedom to choose our work,
                the freedom to choose our leisure,
                the freedom to write.

Today is a day of gentle anticipation of another year together with the love of my life.
We have places to go, things to do, together.

A harvest of delights lies ahead.
It's like New Year's Eve all over again, minus the hype and the carousing.

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!''
Robert Browning

©2016 April Hoeller

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Thursday, or Thereabouts - September 1, 2016

September Bliss - the fruit of the vine

It's that time of year again, and that means only one thing in this house - The Annual Anniversary Wine Trip!

Tomorrow morning my love and I will head for Niagara wine country on our annual pilgrimage in celebration of wine and our life together. These excursions began not long before we were married in 1975 and have continued almost annually since then and always timed around our anniversary (September 6, 1975)

I took stock of the wine cellar a month ago. Apparently we're down by 79 bottles. How can that be I wonder? Must have been a cold winter...  And I've spent a few hours reviewing wineries and wines, selecting the ones we will visit and the specific wines we want to taste at each winery. This is a much tougher job than it used to be thirty+ years ago when there were maybe a dozen wineries in Niagara. Today there are 92 according to VQA Ontario.

Angel's Gate Winery - Sept. 2014

But we have our favourites, a stable of about 12 (and growing). We cycle through them over the years, visiting 8 or so each season. We are not just tasters but serious buyers who love the smaller wineries. It is not unusual for us to truck home 7+ cases of reds and whites, most of which are only available at the wineries. But this year we are going to cut back...

Yeah, well we say that every year. Here is our record of "cutting back" from past years:

2010: 69 bottles purchased
2011: 74
2012: 91
2013: 88
2014: 95
2015: 97!!!

In early August we made the most of a half day in the Niagara region. With our daughter and son-in-law we visited Strewn where we took part in a special tasting seminar and paid homage to the barrel we bought them as a wedding present last year.

Canadian Oak - of course!

Then we dropped by Malivoire, for some chards and a few other gems.

We brought home a modest 30 bottles of wine that day. Our kids followed in our footsteps with their own 24 bottles.

I'm looking forward to priming the pump on Friday with three winery stops: Angel's Gate, Kew Vineyards and Tawse wineries. Saturday will see us, along with our son and daughter-in-law, (we have passed on our 'habit' to both of our children), at Cave Springs Cellars - including an exquisite lunch at Inn on the Twenty Restaurant - and then Flat Rock Cellars where we have not been in a few years. There is room for one or perhaps two more...

Already I can smell the grapes and hear the cannon shots that keep the birds away.

And did I mention the food?? Ah well that's pretty special too!

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!

©2016 April Hoeller