Monday, January 31, 2005

The Learning Curve

Worship in the convents isn't the homey and casual encounter that I'm used to. Processing into a lovely chapel space filled with natural light and into an assigned seat, I figured I'd have to be quick to keep up.

Flipping in the worship book from one section to another, finding musical tone sequences on a different page from the words of the liturgy, I undertake all of this as a challenge and surprisingly, get a lot out of the experience.

I've learned when chanting, the format of the text makes a difference: CAPITALs signalling intonation, _underline_s note a change in inflection and *asterisk means ...
... pause.

Antiphonally, we sing/chant to each other and to God. It is interesting to note the female monastic community and the male-centred worship language; makes me feel a little awkward to be in their midst. I know that bowing to the altar is an act of acknowledgement and worship, but it seems to confine the holy presence to one spot in one room of one building.

Still, I'm looking forward to the next time.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Plugged in

From the cloister of St. John's Convent, my communiques with the outside world will continue! You thought I was kidding about hanging with the nuns yesterday. Nestled in the suburbandale cluster that seems to be Willowdale, my Centre for Christian Studies co-learners and I have embarked on a course of theological edification and personal growth.

In an anachronism of technology and retreat,I find myself in a room with a high-speed internet connection. Until told otherwise (easier to ask forgiveness than receive permission), I will put this bandwidth to good use, sharing the loves and joys of this Learning Circle with those who cannot experience the empowerment and honouring that is this collective community.

The fun begins in earnest tomorrow; for now I will engage the readings that were to have been completed beforehand. Or prepare a sermon for presentation. Or see about settling an island of Catan.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Progress on one hand

On one hand, progress in the tidying of the home office (after a month of New Year's resolve), whittling down the number of remaining readings to a paltry 15, finishing a couple papers, convincing myself that extemporaneous preaching is a suitable learning goal and preparing for a Toronto Learning Circle, has all been fine, well and good.

On the other, blogging has taken a back seat. My top 5 concert list is still being evaluated (what is going to sneak in at #5?) and a picture of a highly-accessorized soon-to-be big sister Rei has yet to be posted.

Progress is in the eye of the beholder. More beholding to be done at a later date, I've still got Sunday morning to tend to and a congregational annual meeting.

Pending time, energy and internet access, the blogging will be somewhat curtailed for the next couple weeks as I'm off to live with nuns in Toronto. Adios amoebas!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Signal to Noise

While the Raptors were stinking up the Air Canada Centre tonight, I turned to fonder memories of that venue as I finished watching Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Tour DVD. What restraint to wait a month to do this! (I blame the binder of readings for the upcoming course - gotta blame it on something...)

It was a fine show, a veritable rock spectacle, one of the best concerts I've attended. Which got me to thinking what my top 5 would be. Although if you're waiting for that list tonight, you'll have to be disappointed. There will be no encore ... thank you and goodnight!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Web Gems

In the midst of a couple of reports, multiple readings for my upcoming course and preparation for annual meetings and worship services, I have uncovered a couple sites of waste-o.

For those at risk of severe mental disturbance, avoid The Hasselhoffian Recursion. Others may proceed at their own risk. Scrolling through the comments was at least as "entertaining" as the infinite visual assault. (Thanks, Michelle, for etching that image into my mind's eye).

Andrew Pants will write songs at the request of anyone willing to ask for one. He's a York University music student writing Songs to Wear Pants to. I was particularly impressed by Celtic Techno Burrito, reminded of Afro-Celt Sound System and Taco Bell ("intimidated by the size of my burrito"). While I thought the song was a bit long (extended version, go figure) I still wanted it to continue when it was over - a little like finishing The Lord of the Rings.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Friday, January 21, 2005

Magna vs. NetWorth

This one goes out to the "reality" TV junkies out there.

The Donald was at it once more with The Apprentice going to Burger King. Most viewers are likely aware that instead of teams determined by gender, this round has teams based on education: those who "only" completed high school and those with a college degree. It's street smarts vs. book smarts.

While I have to say I appreciate the underdog mentality and "brass bawls" of the high schoolers; it should be no surprise that I must self-identify as booksmart. Especially with Bren, the quiet little educated man. Although Danny's self-declared creative genius and inability to make a quick decision remind me a lot of me...

For those bragging that the net worth of the streetsmart team is 3x higher than the other, I must observe that going to school, paying tens of thousands of dollars per year, instead of working and furthering a career will do that. Spending, instead of earning, during the first 4 to 8 years of these candidates' eligible working years (some having only been in the workforce 3 years, by my guess) leaves the account balance a little low.

Brass bawls or not, don't get too smug NetWorth...

*** Comments contain spoilers for The Amazing Race ***

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Seasons in the Sun

We're in the middle of January, snow and cold all around. I needed to be reminded of what awaits us.

rei beach 8

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Winter Driving

So we thought that we would brave the weather and venture into London tonight for some office supplies (for me), maternity clothes (for Shelley) and a grilled cheese sandwich (for Rei).

The weather was not the problem, the slushy, unplowed, ground-drifted roads made the travelling home slow. And a cranky, overtired toddler in the back was voicing her displeasure.

Next time we think about winter weather driving, we're staying at home.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Spiral of Life

So many of our days, so much of our news is bittersweet.

Dear friend Ursula's mom died last night after a valiant battle with cancer. I remember her as a vibrant and generous soul who always enjoyed the journey as much as the destination and never met a slot machine who didn't like her. She made the world happier.

But life does go on, it's unstoppable that way. Shelley and I discovered that we will be welcoming a new soul into the world in mid- to late-June. Rei, in preparation for big sisterhood, has nodded her approval and appears to look forward to "Baby". We'll see what she really thinks in 5 months time.

And Urs, we're thinking of you during this time. Be well.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Sleep Obsessed

Sleep has been a running theme with Rei for the past few days. She's been covering her stuffed toys with blankets, rubbing their backs and gently saying "shh shh"; it's very adorable. There have been times when she gathers her bed buddies (Pooh, Teddy and Duck) and her blanket of choice and begins to head up the stairs announcing "Sleep!"

Of course, when we get her to her crib (a literal crib, not an MTV one) she'll lie there and chatter for an hour or so before dropping off. This also happens at daycare and we hope she's not that great a distraction for the other nappers (or the teachers). You'd think with her preoccupation with sleep, she'd be more receptive to it...

Although, last week it felt very much like sleep training all over again as she went to bed wailing and crying for about 5 nights in a row. It seems to have resolved itself now. We'll see what her next fixation might be: food or poop. (I'm hoping for food).

As for me, my next stop is sleep!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Wiggles OUT!

So I've rid myself of The Wiggles earworm temporarily, courtesy of CBC Radio 3. Through its archives I became acquainted with litterbug and their song "the incredible hulk". The incisiveness of their insight assures me that I am not alone in my questions and doubts:

The Incredible Hulk, well he was just a man
so why'd he turn green when he turned into the hulk?
The Incredible Hulk, he was just a man
I don't understand why he would turn green
Did you turn green because you were really mad?
You'd think if that was the case you'd have turned red...

Wiggly Party

The joys of living with a toddler is the unconscious absorption of inane songs by artists such as The Wiggles. This morning I woke up with this banter in my head:

"What has four legs and a very flat top?
It's in your house and it's really stable (stable)
It may be made of wood, you can have your dinner there
It's very useful, it's a table."

"(Oh, a table)"

There are worse things to wake up to, I guess.

(Wake up Jeff, everybody's Wiggling / Wake up Jeff, we really need you / Wake up Jeff, you're missing all the fun now / Wake up Jeff, before the day's through ...)

Somebuddy make it stop. Please.

Friday, January 14, 2005

A Super Fundy Morning

I had an encounter with JEE-zuhss (and you have to do a little head-bob as you emphasize the JEE) at a local retirement home that had me biting my tongue. An earnest, kind-hearted musician was leading a hymn sing for some residents while preaching, testifying, cajoling and threatening their souls with Hell.

What makes me sad is the self-righteousness that accompanies such evangelism. What I see underlying all of that Christian love is a fear and hatred of God, oneself and all others. Salvation = selfishness. And what really drives me nuts is because of my chosen profession, it is assumed I share those same beliefs.

Save me Jeebus!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

She's got a ticket to ride

As if she wasn't walking fast enough already...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Quality Programming

I've been spoiled this week with two consecutive 2-hour evenings of 24, followed by an entertaining and agitating leg of The Amazing Race. Even tonight's double-shot of Law & Order (silent moment for Jerry Orbach ...) and CSI: NY pales in comparison. Just as well, I have 57 articles to read by the end of the month for my next stint of study. Don't the networks know I have work to do?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Washing of the Water

Watching and listening to Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live tour has hit a very different chord since the Asian earthquake-tsunami disaster.

The imagery of water and flood that tied into his theme of up/down duality suddenly takes on a grim and sombre note. Right from the beginning, Here Comes the Flood. Then Darkness, "I'm scared of swimming in the sea ..." and Red Rain, "I am standing up at the water's edge in my dream, I cannot make a single sound as you scream ..."

It was chilling and poignant, eerie and prophetic. I get goosebumps thinking about this unwitting tribute and testimony.

Peace, shalom, salaam.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Tracking the Woozle

Rei and I went for a walk today to get the mail and I was reminded of Pooh Bear and Piglet's chase of the elusive Woozle. After all, isn't life about journeying together through this world? Especially when it's luncheon time?


Sunday, January 09, 2005


The busy day is over: 2 worship services as per usual; funeral; Youth Forum planning meeting; 2 hours of thrills and chills with '24'. And Sunday is the day of rest? Unless I'm Jewish, then the Sabbath is Saturday; or Muslim, Friday; or clergy, Monday.

Monday it is! Maybe the office will finish getting cleaned/organized then. But that wouldn't truly be respite would it?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Six Feet Under, this ain't

It's always an awkward experience preparing for a funeral. Trying to capture and honour a life in mere service of worship is beyond me. That's when the divine needs to move and flow in and around the spaces of our human attempts to grieve and understand.

The most surreal moment of revelation for me occurs when this person, this life, becomes a mere file on my computer. At that moment when I hit "save" (no pun intended!) and type in the name, that's when it dawns on me that s/he's really and truly dead. Certainly gives new meaning to Ghost in the Machine....

Friday, January 07, 2005

Tic Toc/Tick Tock

Hi Toc Alpha!
Seems like there is much energy and excitement about reacquainting ourselves with former members of this once-thriving province-wide youth organization, (one of its great ironies being that the original "TA" group advocated Total Abstinence). No further comment.

So the Toc Alpha blog has been launched and I expect much reminiscing and inside joking.

Also along the lines of tick-tocking: Jack Bauer returns to action on Sunday with 24: Day 4. I expect many explosions and covert operations -- in real time, just like my life is lived in real time. Kiefer is Canadian, name begins with K, has familial ties to the NDP. Just like me. In fact, we're the same person. "Loves and Joys of BuddhaKiefer" ... hmmm, it has a ring to it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Day of Production

A full church day today: sent out 8 letters, 4 emails, made 10 phone calls, received 6 calls, all of these communiques were work-related. Wrote Sunday's liturgy, one report, the previously-mentioned letters, and began 3 other reports. 'Tis the season of annual meetings, fa la la la la ...

The madness continues tomorrow -- another full day there. I'm going to need some major waste-o to balance out this industriousness.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


The router is routing, the office is still in disarray, but I'm blogging wirelessly. It's been a couple days in the making but the manse is abuzz with connectivity.

Using Ma Baker's laptop, I'm on the couch watching TV, and multi-tasking, waste-o style. Not to fear, I will use my powers for good.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Battling Entropy

I'm currently in the midst of a week long clean-up of the home office. Most of the floor is reappearing and there are some vacancies in the filing cabinet. A big bag of documents for shredding is hanging off the door knob yet mounds of "to be filed" items remain. Ack, this is going to take forever ... Next year I resolve not to make resolutions.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


"Hey Buckethead! Whachu thinkin' about?"
Again, the packaging is more fun than the toy.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy ... New Year. You know who this is.

What happens when four couples, released from the care of their children, meet up in Guelph for a sleepover and imbibe excess food and drink? It's a New Year's Rockin' Eve of Toc Alphian proportions.

(Toc Alpha is an acronym for "Taking On Concerns About Life, People and Human Achievement"; its tagline, Youth for youth by youth, was a rallying cry at hotels in the Toronto area until its dissolution 5 years ago. It was an Ontario-wide youth organization that developed leadership skills and promoted healthy lifestyle choices for youth 14- to 24-years old. Apparently, it also promoted inbreeding, because we all seemed to marry each other).

A surfeit of calories and alcohol punctuated the evening's festivities which featured Bailey's balls, a nun calendar, sea-men and adult movie previews. Xena, warrior Princess, made an appearance to ring in the New Year after key-swapping had reconfigured the couples.

Drama continued as people drifted off to sleep when an "outside caller" left a slurred yet impassioned message on Jon's cellphone: "Happy F***ing New Year. mumble mumble. You know who this is. Love to the girls."

Love to everybuddy. Happy _ [insert own adverb here]_ New Year.