Sunday, December 31, 2006

More of the Same

Even though last night started off well, Neva and Rei having a sleepover; it ended with Rei (who was still awake at 11:00) sleeping with Shelley in the home office and me on the couch. Neva woke this morning with concern, wondering where her sleepover friend went.

There was more "grocery shopping" with the toys, some "fire fighting" as well as the requisite Dora watching.

A session with some Play Foam, tiny coloured adhesive beads that can be shaped into imaginative designs and creations, brought out the OCD-behaviour in the adults trying to re-sort the kids' mixed globs of sculpture back into their component colours.

Our New Year's Eve evening shapes up to be pretty much the same as last year: playing games, listening to
Seán Cullen on the radio, and eating appetizers the entire time. The more things change, the more they stay the same. On this night of the year, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas 2006: Round 7

The Parsons-Sheldrakes arrived in the afternoon, Hugh with a found golf ball in hand. (One other item to mark off on my wish list as "received"). Gifts were opened in the afternoon and the kids were all abuzz with the energy of seeing each other once more and the power of Christmas unleashed yet again.

Neva's new cash register/grocery checkout toy was immensely popular, as was the "electric guitar" Rei got from Uncle Daisuke, (who might be grateful that the Boston Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka so that people could finally pronounce his name properly. Or sue for rights to the moniker "Dice"). Kai was just happy to have so many people in house to run around with.

We received Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth (now in more convenient DVD format), an Antarctic boardgame, Hey! That's My Fish, and a handcrafted stole that would be very appropriate for the season of Epiphany. We experienced the marvellous wonder that is Jeffy's sweater as he and I supersmashed each other, Mario-style, on the GameCube. Peace and goodwill to all in this season, you know.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Previous Generation

As speculated, the advent of Nintendo Wii has yielded some good buys. I joined the cool kid crowd yesterday with the purchase of a GameCube. Yes, I know it's 5 years behind the times; but I don't have the time or inclination to make it that much of a priority.

So I got picked up a GameCube Platinum with controller and Super Smash Bros. Melee for $90, buying another controller and Animal Crossing, at the Great Canadian Superstore ... (what is this world coming to? buying video game consoles at a grocery store?)

I opened it last night to find that the game that was supposed to be included was missing. Today, Shelley had some shopping to do and exchanged our things for a complete set. And now, my thumbs are a little sore.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Close Quarters

We live in big old farmhouse, and the kids cram themselves into the smallest corner of the kitchen.
close quarters
At least it hasn't taken months for Rei to start playing with her Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Golden Years

Rei, sprawled out on the floor in front of the TV, gave a contemplative sigh and observed,"When I was little, I loved being a baby."

I wonder if Kai thinks the same thing. Except for his latest ear infection, I suspect he might agree.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas 2006: Round 6 - The Tally

Driving on snowless roads to Greatgrandmother's house we go ... we were treated to another full turkey dinner for lunch. Despite Kai's cold, he was in good spirit and demeanor; Rei responded very positively to Heavenly Hash ice cream and homemade peanut butter fudge; Shelley was the one who restored the toilet to proper working order; and my contribution to the day's events was taking a nap.
* * *
All in all, 'twas a bookish Christmas. Add to the already received Eleanor Rigby, the also-requested Baseballissimo and a surprise from the kids/Shelley: Miriam Toews's summer of my amazing luck.

The philosophical What the Bleep!? Down the Rabbit Hole DVD from my brother was an apt and unexpected (and much appreciated) selection.

With the Christmas gift money received, the only bargain shopping I did today was at iTunes' Boxing Day Sale, picking up The Hidden Cameras "Awoo" and Nelly Furtado's "Folklore" for cheap. I have my sights on Little Miss Sunshine, no surprise, or maybe a Nintendo Gamecube now that the Wii is pushing the price down.

Many thanks for the gifts, I have many more outlets for waste-o under the guise of cultural enrichment.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas 2006: Round 5

After lunch, we sped through the spring-like countryside to the farm for my family Christmas. Plenty of food and drink was to be had, which the kids also enjoyed:
Xmas Joy 2006
T'is the season to be jolly, indeed.

Christmas 2006: Round 4

Shelley's sister stayed overnight (and helped us assemble the new kitchen playset we got for the kids) and of course, the night was rocky. Attuned to the worldwide restlessness of children on Christmas Eve, Kai was up at 3:30. With a houseguest in the room below his, we didn't feel justified in letting him cry himself out and spent a couple hours with him in the rocking chair.

Rei also woke up during this time and announced "she couldn't sleep". Things finally settled down at 5:30 and we all slept in until 8:00.

The lack of sleep did not factor into their determination to play with their Christmas toys.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Super Sunday

In the rare collision of calendar quirks, the fourth Sunday in Advent with Communion and the Christmas Eve service occur on the same day. After the morning services, I had 15 minutes for lunch before the dress rehearsal for the evening's drama. Once that concluded there was some more set-up and preparation in.

I managed a few hours of time with the family, including a hay wagon ride through the streets of Arkona, before heading back to the church for final tinkering, meeting and greeting.

In the end, no one set themselves on fire, the computer slide presentation progressed smoothly and the worship glitches were minor. The kids were adorable and the importance of the season was emphasized. Still, I'm glad it comes but once a year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


While Rei declined to appear in the daycare's Christmas concert, her brother looked to make off with a gift from Santa.
Santa Heist

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I'm still alive, mostly well. It's always busy around this time of year for some reason. There're a few half-completed posts saved as drafts that I have yet to finish — maybe I'll get around to doing that. Once Christmas arrives. Enjoy the season.


Ever since we bought our TV in August, we'd noticed the occasional fade/burn spot on the screen that appeared as a bright green splotch in the top right corner.

Today, we finally exchanged the TV for a new one (same make and model) while the kids were in daycare. They didn't notice the difference.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas 2006: Round 3

I took the kids into Forest for some playtime at the Ontario Early Years Centre (and also rounding out the OEYC's attendance numbers, justifying its existence, and keeping Shelley employed), while Shelley went into London to attend a publisher's book sale. She came back with some treats: a touch-and-feel puppy book for Kai, Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go! for me, and a Wiggle songbook for Rei featuring a "digital music player" that has 20 Wiggles songs on it playback. Needless to say both kids were enraptured with the "iPod Wiggle".

We observed Christmas with Shelley's sister and her boyfriend with some chips and dip, lasagna and apple caramel cheesecake. Gifts for the kids featured a Tonka fire truck, a pink Sleeping Beauty costume (complete with "high heel" shoes), and a pyjama-set featuring a Hugh Hefner-esque housecoat. My Douglas Coupland collection now contains Eleanor Rigby and it wouldn't have been Christmas without receiving a basketball magazine.

It was a marvellous green, and browning, Christmas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

18-month Bash

To commemorate his recent coming of age (18 months), Kai and I visited the doctor for some celebratory immunizations.
18-month celebration
His Eminence (31½-inch length and 22 lbs 2 oz weight) preferred to mark the occasion with a tea party.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hospital-ity Tour

This afternoon, the new pastor from the Bible Chapel in town and I drove into London for a whirlwind tour of the healthcare system (the cooperative venture of LHSC and SJHC). I showed him around to University Hospital, St. Joseph's Health Care, pointing out Mount Hope Centre, South Street Hospital, and Parkwood Hospital on our way to Victoria Hospital.

We met with some of the pastoral care staff, I showed him where to park and how to have his pass validated and he received/completed the paperwork for his accredited hospital IDs. Coincidentally, the staff appreciation buffet was occurring while at Victoria. I walked into the cafeteria with ID affixed to my lapel, acting as if I belonged (not for the first time that I've been mistaken for a doctor – and not to say that only doctors are "staff", although some act like it), and brought a plate of fruit and cookies and a couple coffees back to the Spiritual Care office.

It is, after all, the hospital's mandate to care for the entire person, spirit, mind and body.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bucky Ballot

My latest waste-o diversion is making my selections for CBC Radio 3's First Annual Bucky Awards. These voter-determined accolades for the Canadian independent music scene have trivially engaging categories like "Best Facial Hair" and "Band that most Resembles Itself" (Tegan & Sara would be too easy, they're identical twins after all...)

I am exercising my franchise with due diligence, attuning my discerning ear to assess the entries in "Catchiest Beat" and "Best Flow", doing my best to judge entirely on the merits of the music and not my loyalties to the artists (although it is near impossible to bring myself to vote against Joel Plaskett, Emily Haines, or Ron Sexsmith).

It's hard work voting in on-line polls!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Performance Artist

Ribbon gymnastics and sunglasses to protect against the glare of flashbulbs,
liturgical dance can't be far off ...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Santa Drives a Jetta

The kids' least favourite part of "Breakfast with Santa", an annual event hosted by the Ontario Early Years Centre in Forest, is Santa. Being mildy- to moderately-suspicious of strangers, it wasn't likely that they would approach a chuckling, overly-jolly, stranger of immense proportions. Kai, maybe; Rei, definitely not.

As we pulled into the parking lot for the event, who parked beside us? St. Nick himself! Peering into the backseat windows and offering a friendly wave, the jolly old elf terrified Rei. She insisted that she needed to be carried from the car to her breakfast. So it was with 50+ lbs. of winter-clad kids in my arms that I made my way through the parking lot and down the stairs into the Great Hall.

It didn't stop there, Santa was in the hall asking if I could have the staff close the blinds on the windows so the kids wouldn't see him before "it was time". Other children might have been impressed that their parent was on speaking terms with Santa. Not so our kids.

(And it seems that someone has gone to a lot of work to uncover the truth about Santa. Did you ask for "personal salvation" for Christmas this year? Because, apparently, we'd better or we'll reside forever on The Naughty List.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Snow Job 2006

It's been a while since I've posted a picture. The snow and cold presented the opportunity to bundle up the kids in their winter wear; and here they are, hard at "work".
snow job
I expect a comment from Urs about child labour.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


I got in to see the dentist this morning, to have my chipped tooth examined. A couple minutes of filing and I was out of the chair and back to shovelling out the sidewalks and driveway.

checking his list

Much of the holiday stress comes from expectations around gifts, giving and receiving. And I'm not really about the gifts at Christmas, despite the purpose of this post. I'm listing things I'd like (not because so many of you have asked, but it provides a central site for the flow of information). And given how long it took me to compile this list, it'd be a shame not to share it with the world, despite how presumptuous and egotistic it makes me.

CDs — My list is a little Polaris-flavoured, definitely all-Canadian:
- Final Fantasy, He Poos Clouds
- The Hidden Cameras, Awoo
- Metric, Live It Loud
- The Stills, Without Feathers

DVDs — I don't have much time for watching movies lately, but I'll make time for this one:
- Little Miss Sunshine (to be released Dec. 19)

Books — more Canadiana:
- Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
- Baseballissimo or For Those About to Rock by Dave Bidini

Other ideas:
- Wine decanter
- Golf balls

If you want to use the comments to coordinate efforts and avoid duplication, I won't check them until the New Year. Really, I won't.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cuddle Day

With Kai feeling under the weather, he spent pretty much the entire day on my lap or in my arms. While it was nice to spend the time snuggling together, it wasn't the most productive day, work-wise.

Although, remembering December 6th's Montreal Massacre (and not many seem to be remembering today – I didn't notice much media coverage beyond a passing comment), the Dawson College shooting, and all the evil in the world, some parent-child bonding seems more important.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


This week, Kai completed his 3-week transition from the Infant Room at daycare to become a full-time toddler.

He's also in the process of moving from "healthy" to "not healthy" as another coughing, sniffling cold is manifesting itself in his system.

In other changes, I had put away the barbeque for the winter; we fired up our indoor George Foreman grill for tonight's sausages.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gosh Batman!

Tonight, on the way to bath, Rei was singing: "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na BATMAN!" Amused, perplexed, and rather impressed, I asked her where she learned that song. She proudly replied, "At Monday School!" (Monday School is what our church calls Sunday School, except it happens on Monday after school; hence, the name).

In previous weeks, we've used the Batman grace:
"Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, thank you! (x2)
Thank you
God for
Bat food."

So she is familiar with the music. Although I don't recall ever divulging the original lyrics, she must have picked them up somewhere. It is a hypnotically versatile tune; it works for so many things – Batman, fishing, Leader.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Lately, Kai has become very pre-occupied with his bellybutton. He'll walk around with his hand under his shirt, running his finger back and forth over his navel.

This morning, he worked his arm out of the sleeve of his pyjama sleeper so that he could fiddle with his middle.

Friday, December 01, 2006

TP Clarity

Before heading into London to visit at the hospital, Shelley asked if I could stop by No Frills and pick up a few things on sale. She mentioned toilet paper, 40 rolls for $7, but when I was in the aisle, I couldn't remember the particulars.

I saw 30 Mega rolls, an equivalent of 50 rolls, (which seemed like the right amount) for $14 (for some reason, the multiple of $7 struck me as accurate as well ...) and gathering my items, proceeded to the cashier. When it came to the toilet paper, she helpfully mentioned that Royale was on sale, 40 rolls for $7. I commented, "That's probably what I was supposed to get!" to the amusement of everyone in the check-out line.

I hurried to the prominent pyramid of personal paper product (how did I miss that display?) and returned home, feeling the satisfication of cashing in on a good deal. You might say that I "cleaned up".

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A League of Our Own

It likely won't surpise you that I've been an avid watcher of the Japanese invasion of America's pastime, baseball.

While chatting with my youngest brother on line, we noted that this year saw the introduction of Kenji (Jojima) as a catcher of Seattle. The next big thing from the Land of the Rising Sun is Daisuke (Matsuzaka) whose rights were sold to Boston for a measly $51 million. This news was followed shortly by the Yankees acquiring rights to Kei (Igawa). Now, it's doubtful that Kei is short for Keizo, but he is left-handed.

Kenji - Daisuke - Kei(zo) matches the birth order in our family; now all we need is a roster spot for our sister Rumiko.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Family Communications

My siblings are (re-)entering the blog world. My sister informed me that she's undertaken attempt #5 at randommiko and my brother has re-branded himself at Keizo's Sports World.

In other familial communications, Kai said his sister's name last night during a game of Hide and Seek. We've since been trying to get him to repeat the feat, but he prefers to respond with "applesauce" or "cookie".

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Having playtime with the kids before supper, one of them dropped a Lego block tower on my face. I chipped a tooth. Nothing major, a little sliver off the lingual surface of the upper central incisor (back of the front tooth, topside; thanks Wikipedia!).

I'll call the dentist tomorrow and see what can be done.

America Smells

Shelley took the day off and we went cross-boarder shopping in Port Huron; while Shelley has been over a few times with friends from work, it was my first. After touring through Target at the Birchwood Mall, we ventured into the mall itself where the standard mall fare awaited.

Approaching a bath/beauty store, I found myself reacting unfavourably to the heavily-scented atmosphere – nothing smelled bad, but the combination and strength of the aromas made me queasy. For the rest of the morning I breathed through my mouth near fragrance counters and ducked outside on occasion for some "fresh" air.

I bounced a $100 basketball a couple times, the new official NBA ball that everyone's complaining about. I didn't see the problem with it, except it didn't smell like leather. I say, "Suck it up, whiney pants. You had all summer to practise with it; how is this a surprise?"

For lunch, we enjoyed the Italian-inspired aromas of the Olive Garden restaurant. Filling up on salad and bread, we took much of our entrées home. Home, where things smell like meat pies.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Minister's Monday

It may not be Sunday morning, but there was work for me to do. I had a conference call in the morning to plan for a "Pastoral Care with Youth" event, fortunately it coincided with some Dora the Explorer, which kept Reiko occupied.

I spent the afternoon getting ready for Monday School, a new unit of material with the season of Advent beginning, and we had 11 kids in attendance.

After supper, I went into London to visit someone in hospital. Only 6 more days until Sunday.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Grand Central Station

We saw Shelley's parents off this morning, for their winter migration to Florida. Then we prepared the house for more company.

Reiko hosted her first play date today as one of her friends from daycare came for a visit. It was a morning highlighted by viewing of a Wiggles movie, packing and unpacking backpacks, craft-making, hot dogs, and a lot of giggles.

The third wave of guests took the form of my parents, taking time from the busy schedule of field work for supper. It was also presented the third opportunity for barbecuing in 24 hours.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lightbulbs and Leaks

I've heard a lot of manse horror stories. That is not the case for us here. A couple of stalwart church members, on behalf of the Manse Committee, were adjusting the sensitivity of the motion-detecting lights on the garage.

While there, I mentioned to them a couple of plumbing issues (a leak in the basement and a loose faucet in the shower). What they thought was a quick tweaking became a couple of trips to their respective homes and the hardware store for more tools and new gaskets/washers. I'm thankful for their effort and effectiveness. In gratitude, I paid them with beer, plus it gave me an excuse to crack one open myself, mid-afternoon.

It also seems to be lightbulb bursting season as in the past few weeks, two have shattered and three others have burned out.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Goodyear goodurs

My blog year is closely attuned to the life of goodurs. As I unveil the next profile picture for this site, I also present her birthday haiku:

Like birthday candles,
Our own Little Miss Sunshine
Burns coal to keep warm.

It may not be Furla, but it does evoke some highlights of her 30th year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Worth the Wait

After the Raptors' winless West Coast string of games going late into the night, I rued the decisions to watch them lose some win-able contests to the Lakers and Nuggets.

I taped tonight's game because I had a church meeting and watched it tonight wondering if it would be another waste of time. After running up a lead of 19 in the first half, only to let Cleveland score 15 points in a row, I had that far-too familiar sinking feeling.

Mind you I was watching the game for Lebron James and "Sideshow Bob" Anderson Varejao, as much as for a Toronto victory.
Photo by Adrian Wyld. "Sideshow Bob" grunts behind Chris Bosh.

Raptors won and noted ball-chucker Andrea Bargnani recorded his first assists of his NBA career. Now, onto Letterman.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Parent Night 2006

Tonight was "Parent Night" at daycare, so it meant after having the kids home in the afternoon and pulling together a supper of tomato soup and Kraft Dinner, driving back into town to get the news on the kids' development and social prowess.

Shelley had an evening program, so I was on my own. We had thought about a fish and chip dinner at Scotty's in town, but we've had a lot of eating out lately (mostly McDonald's with a venture to Burger King for a change of pace). Although I later discovered the kids had macaroni and cheese for lunch. So much for variety.

The kids are progressing well in the categories of gross and fine motor skills, communication, social-personal behaviour, and problem-solving, etc. But we knew that already.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Kid 'n Play

Rei is really enjoying her "camera" from her dollar store outing on Saturday. Kai was playing Daddy in his U of Kentucky hat and Sunday worship folder.
Kid 'n Play
This is them in action.

Back On-line

Friday night, the Internet quit on us. There were some problems, apparently, with our local ISP.

To honour the National Day of the Child, the kids and I met up with Shelley in Sarnia for a children's concert featuring the travelling medical show of Col. W.D. Quackhorn and his puppets. Although Shelley had to work, she was part of the group that was presenting this event, we managed a family morning together.

It was a grey and dreary November morning, one that would have been perfect for sleeping in and skipping church. On CBC Radio that morning, Michael Enright was doing a piece on the movie Borat that I was keen to hear, but pulled into the church parking lot as it was beginning. Given all the comments and flack I've received about my alb, I think they should be grateful for small mercies:
Is niiice, yes?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Glamour of Ministry

After office hours this morning, I spent the afternoon and evening in meetings. And that was my day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Church Supper Chaos

Kai said the word "book". It made for a happy Early Literacy Specialist mother. It was also the night of Arkona's Fall Supper, at a time when his ELS mom had an evening program to attend.

The kids did quite well in the crowd as I balanced church hosting duties with single-parenting. Our actual meal itself began with a plan. Going through the buffet line with Kai on my arm and double-plate stack of food, we got seated and eating.

He only began wailing when I had to take his sister to the bathroom. A quick trip home for a change of clothes and we settled back to our meal. And another trip to the bathroom, only to find upon our return, our plates had efficiently been cleared away...

I bathed the kids, got them into bed, and when Shelley returned home, I headed back to the church to help finish the clean-up. Afterwards, the plates of leftover pie that I brought home atoned for the abrupt end to supper.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Night Laundry

There's another round of colds going through our household. With the exception of the night before last, Kai has woken himself up in the night from coughing too much. And throwing up from coughing too much. Last night we changed him into 3 different pairs of pyjamas and changed his cribsheet once.

We are getting rather efficient at the midnight cleaning operations. A prominent feature of today's Daddy Day with Rei has been folding and putting away laundry.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


17 months and he's already figured out the photo appears on the LCD screen of the digital camera. He's on his way to check himself out.
17 month spike
You may be able to discern his hip and happening hairdo; I tried to get him against a lighter background, but he's not inclined to pose peaceably.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Christmas 2006: Round 2

After tending to the Remembrance Day parade and cenotaph ceremony this morning, it ws time to switch gears and get ready for Christmas. Before Shelley's parents venture south for the winter, we had everyone over to observe the Yuletide festivities and tradtions.

Not only does it space out our Christmas shopping over a couple months, it allows us an excuse to indulge in shrimp cups, sausage rolls, spring rolls, antipasto, oysters, shrimp rings, dips and other appetizing delights.

Apropos of the occasion, our Christmas catcus was in full bloom.
Christmas cactus
Our botanical achievements are so few and far between, they're worth noting and celebrating. Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Whites of Their Eyes

Thankfully my visage is somewhat less freakish now that my eyes seem somewhat more normal. When I went to see my student buddy (through Big Brothers) yesterday at his school he asked, "Whoa, what happened to your eyes?"

The whites of my eyes are white again and just in time for my optometrist's appointment. Rei accompanied me and did quite well considering the new place and its people. Her vision is fine; mine has gotten slightly worse. We'll see if new glasses are in the offing.

He chalked up my ocular distress to poor air quality on the plane or any other external factor. I haven't heard of anyone else in Saskatchewan coming down with red-eye so I guess I can relinquish my status as Patient Zero.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Westward Ho

The United Church of Canada had convened a national gathering of rural ministry folk for a consultation to discern what God's call might be for the rural church in our day and age. While Calling Lakes Centre in Saskatchewan had wireless internet access, there was an error in IP configuration that prevented me from getting online. It is with belated pleasure that I offer this recounting of my past few days.

The Red-Eye

I was on the road before 7 a.m. to catch a flight to Regina, with a stopover in Toronto. As I overpaid for a sandwich in Pearson, the cashier stared at me commenting, "Your eyes are so red! Are you getting enough sleep?" No, I hadn't been getting enough sleep; that was hardly a new state of being.

I went to the bathroom to look in a mirror and sure enough, the lower half of both eyes were incredibly bloodshot. Think of the Rage-consumed zombies in 28 Days Later. Suddenly they were very dry and itchy too. Hardly the first (re-)impression I wanted to make with all of the fine United Church leaders I was (re-)meeting.

Monday: Company in the Pigeon Hole

Upon arrival in Regina, we were school-bussed to Fort Qu'Appelle and took up residence in our respective dorm rooms. Turns out that I'd been matched with an Asian man who's with the Ethnic Ministries Council of the United Church. Maybe the planners thought we'd have a lot in common?

Looking as I do, coming from the family that I do, I cannot deny my Japanese heritage. However, being a farmboy from southwestern Ontario, I'm more culturally and ethnically liable to self-identify as Dutch Reform. But then people wouldn't know where to put my baggage.

Tuesday: Café Olé

This rural consultation is following the World Café process where we begin in groups of 4, sharing ideas, opining opinions and discussing a question that is posed to the entire assembly. After 20 minutes, we re-configure into new groups of 4, sharing the gist of our previous discussions and building upon that information.

We spent many sessions in the World Café, leaving me with little energy or inclination to be overly social outside of the intentional discussion groups. I did manage to get away and find some eyedrops. (Everyone's been so helpful with their diagnosis: allergic reaction, diabetic complication, conjunctivitis ...)

Tuesday: Election Night

The evening was open for social time, self-care, and general relaxing. It was amusing to be part of an animated crowd watching the American election results on CNN. With passion that rivalled Superbowl enthusiasts and an Oscar-rivalling eye on fashion ("who wears a green tie on election night?" although, it is eye-catching; "Anderson Cooper has the best hair" and "I liked him better as a reality-TV host"), we witnessed the Democratic overthrow of the House and upheaval in the Senate.

In the midst of all the hubbub and humdrum, someone wondered, "How many people in the States pay this much attention to a Canadian election?" Just asking, is all.

Wednesday: Wisdom Speaks

Every so often, I'll be compelled to speak in large group plenary sessions, and even manage to make cogent, coherent statements. That happened this morning when I suggested that true discernment is open to all outcomes, raised the point of functional atheism in our anxiety and told the rural church to get over itself.

A dozen people sought me out afterwards to thank me for my comments. I'm surprised I could board the bus after lunch, my head was so inflated.

Wednesday: Airport Antics

As we all went our separate ways, there were lots of farewells and goodbyes. And we repeated them all when we met up again at the airport. I was about to pay a special tribute to a couple of people who were also at the sexuality education curriculum training event by doing my special "Furious Dwayne" PT-ing dance à la Little Miss Sunshine, but the little old lady with the bemused smile who was watching me a little too curiously made me reconsider. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)

I bought a mindless novel for the flights home (David Baldacci's The Camel Club) seeing as I'd finished my churchy-book (Matthew Fox's The A.W.E. Project) and had left my library book at home (Guy Gavriel Kay's Lord of Emperors).

My eyes were looking somewhat better, but my ears wouldn't pop on the flight to Toronto resulting in muffled and painful hearing. I managed to get home without any further ailments.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Restyling Freestyle

As much as I love, and want to support, CBC Radio, I just can't get into the national afternoon show, "Freestyle" with Cameron and Kelly. Their banter seems too rigid and contrived and their story pieces don't mesh with the music.

I thought this afternoon might be bearable as they talked about how November 2 is Bizarro Groundhog Day, when the groundhog crawls into its hole to sleep for 3 months. The songs "We Won't Last the Winter" and "Sleeping In" showed promise in integrating theme with song.

It fell apart, as usual, when after a segment about aerial yoga and hanging upside down led to the intro, "I don't know if Kate Bush does yoga, but her latest album is titled 'Aerial' and here's a song from it..." Whaa? Is that what passes for radio programming? I'd have lined up Peter Gabriel's "Downside-Up" knowing that PG does practise yoga and the eerie, airy, lilting of Elizabeth Fraser complements the illusion of mid-air inversion.

There was another segment where the transition went something like, "for more information go to their website. If you go to our Freestyle website and check our playlist, you'll see that we played this song ..."

Where is my beloved Tetsuro Shigematsu?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


It was a special Girls' Day today as Shelley took the afternoon off so she and Rei could go see The Wiggles on tour in London. Even though Greg Wiggle wasn't there, Rei didn't seem to notice as the highlight for her was all the funny animal noises that Murray made. (Although that raises the question in my mind, If Greg wasn't there, who drove the big red car?)

She also got her first concert T-shirt, which matches one that her friend R. at daycare also has. You always remember your first, mine was from the Rheostatics' "Melville" years as they opened for the Barenaked Ladies.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Princess and the Bee

A few thousand words about the cuteness of our kids in costume:
halloween 2006
As for me, I'm Murray Wiggle. I could have easily been Jeff with my Asian features and tendency to nap, but I don't have a purple longsleeve shirt and isn't the point of Hallowe'en dressing up as something you're not?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Nightlight Losing Time

The trouble with staying in hotels with young children is trying to balance care and consideration for other guests with our standard parenting practises. We couldn't let Kai cry himself back to sleep in the early morning hours the way we would at home. So we resorted to our old tactics of trying to calm a crying baby, except he's considerably larger and heavier than a year ago.

When he was up at 5 a.m. I tried to calculate when an appropriate time might be for him to cry things out. As Shelley and I took shifts in carrying him around and stealing a few minutes sleep here and there, I looked forward to a reasonable morning hour when his wailing would not be so disruptive.

It was at 6:30 that I realized with the clocks falling back it was only 5:30 ... Deciding it would be best to make a clean getaway, we gathered our things, packed our bags and checked out at 7:30 (EST or EDT, I don't remember) and went to McDonald's for a breakfast before heading home.

We were back in time for church. We didn't go.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sabbath Study

After a week of intense intentionality, critical study and emotional investment, there wasn't much left in the energy or intellectual reserves to manage worship preparation or leadership. Anticipating this, we've arranged for pulpit supply on Sunday.

Seeing as it's still my study leave, I'm reading defrocked Matthew Fox's manifesto on education for wisdom, not knowledge, and Brian McLaren's re-imagining faith in a postmodern world as A Generous Orthodoxy.

To help recharge my batteries and get reacquainted with my family, we headed off to Chatham's Wheels Inn for some rest and relaxation. I still managed to take Rei mini-golfing for the first time where she would set her ball down a few feet from the hole and hockey sweep her ball in. She delighted in "putting the ball in the numbered holes".

A dip in the pool before supper went well. Given the cold and windy weather, we appreciated the indoor wonder that is the Wheels Inn.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Next Step

The purpose of my time away was to become certified trainer in Our Whole Lives sexuality education curriculum, developed by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association in the States.

After lengthy engagement with, and review of, the material, it was decided that it wasn't quite right for the United Church of Canada in its current form. Too much work was needed to address the inherent assumptions of nuclear families and who was and wasn't included in the curriculum. Also the sense that we were "buying into the franchise" was off-putting.

Not to say that it was a waste of time, because I met some fabulous people, learned a lot and experienced much in a context of positive energy and momentum. It is a time yet of imagining and visioning and seeing what might be. Just not as soon as was hoped.

Concluding our time with some chunky milk and honey, we went our separate ways and I was very glad to be home; even if Kai has an ear infection.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

More Sunshine

After a long day of a long week, a group of us headed out to make the most of an evening off. That I had opportunity to see any movie in a theatre and I chose to re-view "Little Miss Sunshine" should indicate my fondness for the Hoovers and their story.

Life imitated art this evening as the simple task of meeting up the group proved comical. En route, I figured out we had been directed to the wrong theatre. I proceeded onward to see if the others decided to see another movie or left a message for me. Nope.

After getting rudimentary directions to the other cinema, I sped through Brantford eventually finding myself at the right place. Receiving a perfunctory smile from the security guard, I hastened to the box office and was granted entry to the theatre to check if my compatriots were there. Yep.

I returned to the ticket counter to pay for my admission and settled in for some hilarious and compelling fun. The hijinks didn't end there; after the movie ended and we ran to our cars à la Uncle Frank's character, we heard the bellowed command, "STOP!" echo through the deserted mall hall.

Thinking it was the other group, we each ran faster. "I SAID 'STOP!'" Turns out the twenty-something security guard was not amused. It was some pretty sweet sweetness.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Clicker Flicker

Part of our ritual in the learning community is lighting candles to symbolize the pillars of the program: respect, responsibility, justice, inclusion, etc. As is becoming the case in most places, a butane BBQ lighter was the instrument of ignition for this ritual. And as is the case, there was some difficulty in operating it.

Someone quipped that the next issue of Gathering, a liturgical resource periodical for the United Church, would feature this topic of working the lighter. With irreverance, I offer my submission:

Voice one: I can't get this to work ... do I ... how does ...
Voice two: Here, let me do it.
All: C'mon baby, light my fire.

Voice one: It's stuck.
Voice two: You have to push the button while you pull the trigger.
All: C'mon baby, light my fire.

Voice one: I'm doing that and it's not working.
Voice two: Here, let me try.
All: C'mon baby, light my fire.

Voice one: Maybe we should get some matches.
Voice two: Hold on ... here we go ... got it!
All: Amen.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Meet Vas

One of the icebreaker games tonight featured Post-It notes affixed to our backs with an anatomical body part written on it. Using "yes" or "no" questions, we had to guess what our body part was.

Remembering how much I enjoyed biology and confident in my ability, I opted for the "more challenging" version. I deduced that I was an internal organ found in the male body and feeling pretty confident that I would solve my riddle, when someone asked me a question about their Post-It note: "Fimbria". I had no clue (guessing it was female by process of hesitant elimination) and confessed my ignorance and inability to help.

Suddenly, I grew quite fearful that I would not know what I was and just started blurting male body parts. "Vas deferens?" Yes! and on my first try. My fallbacks were epididymis or prostate.

One Track Mind

I may be gaining a bit of a reputation within my church circle of acquaintances and colleagues. Last week, I was at a conference about The Bible and Sexuality at Queen's Theological College; this week, I am at Five Oaks to receive training in a new sexuality education curriculum the United Church of Canada is adopting.

Given that sexual norms and behaviours saturate children and youth in our society, shouldn't the church be adding its voice to the mix, offering a faithful and intentional engagement of this central part of our human identity? I happen to think so.

Although once I have this training (which will in turn allow me to train other facilitators in the program), I'm not sure that I'll be overwhelmingly busy in this regard.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


With pumpkin purchased and jack-o-lantern face sketched, we proceeded to disembowel the gourd.
Pumpkin 2006
As you can see, it was a pants-optional event.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Playing God

Today Rei decided she wanted to play church. We opened up our respective books and she began to read/pray: "Dear God, help us love with Jesus." She offered a litany of thanks for the images in her book – rocks, ducks, funny-looking bugs, water – and closed with a rousing "AMEN".

Well, I'm glad that's her impression of church; I could find no fault with her theology. Despite this impressive beginning, I don't know if I would wish the priesthood upon her as well.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Left and Leaving

Thinking back to my stay in Kingston and everything that I didn't do: tour downtown; pick up some of the Sleepless Goat Café's "Dr. Joe" coffee beans; feast on #4 with extra spring rolls at Wok-In; bring back some of the Kingston Brewing Company's Dragon's Breath Pale Ale ... and I left my running shoes behind.

So it shouldn't have surprised me that today would be a day of things not going according to plan. The daycare called, Kai had a fever and according to policy, was being sent home. I cut office hours short, sent my regretful word to Presbytery Executive that I couldn't attend the afternoon meeting, and picked up the kids before lunch.

This did allow more time and less pressure to meet up in London with Shelley before we all went to Shauna's apartment for supper. I even bought a new pair of shoes, not expecting to find anything suitable in my size.

The trip home was interrupted by a requested bathroom break from Rei. Figuring where the closest public bathroom would be from where we were on the 402 was not the last hiccup. We ran into the men's room only to find the stall was already occupied, so we had to run back out to trade with off with Shelley.

Crisis averted, we eventually did get home.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In the News

On the way home I was stuck in Toronto traffic, listening to Jim Curran on "Here and Now" with rapt attention. It was strange for me to hear his report on the traffic situation apply to me; usually when I hear him on the radio, I'm getting supper ready.

Even more eerie was the news of a barn fire causing an evacuation of homes on the shores of Lake Huron (I wonder where?), south of Grand Bend (oh really? we're south of Grand Bend), near Thedford (yikes! we're near Thedford ... are Shelley and the kids heading for sanctuary in London?) She called on the cell-phone, and seeing as the car wasn't moving I made an exception and didn't (couldn't) pull over to take the call.

Shelley told me they didn't have to evacuate (phew!) and let me know which farm it was (one that I drive past twice every Sunday morning), that the Arkona volunteer fire department was sent out, and that 4500 pigs were lost.

Also related to the day's events, as Garth Turner was addressing the media in Ottawa about his ouster, I was coincidentally "driving" through his riding.

In other news, I did get home in time to help with Rei's bedtime routine.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Changing Times and Names

The content of the day's learning included an overview of the evolution of marriage throughout history by Pam Dickey-Young; a workshop on engaging intimacy where I made a couple hug buddies; another workshop about "when men tell their stories" that wasn't so much about men and their stories; and an examination of a celibate Jesus trying to redefine the family construct by Amy-Jill Levine.

In less academic developments, classmate Molly and I also gave each other hip hop names: "Mo'Dawg" and "K-Bonez". Had we used the Hip-Hop Artist Name Generator I would instead be called "dr. cool roc".

Monday, October 16, 2006

Not Your Typical Monday

With the morning dawning clear and bright, and golf clubs in the trunk, I found my way to Inverary Golf & Country Club for a round of pre-conference duffing. After shooting 25 on the first two holes, I stopped keeping score. Although the last half went much better.

I started behind a 4-some of Korean women. How did I know they were Korean? They asked me if I was Korean as they let me play through. When I indicated that I was not, one of them said something under her breath which I think was to the effect of "Too bad" if I correctly interpreted the giggling and nudging afterward.

After the game, I reunited with Jeffy who returned from a few days in Campbellford. Our lunch was hot and sour lunch at Darbar courtesy of the chicken madras and vegetable saambar, respectively.

Then it was to the conference for some feeding of my soul.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The More the Merrier

After church, I packed up a few days' provisions and headed for Kingston. Queen's Theological College's Annual Alumni Conference begins tomorrow, featuring keynote speaker Amy-Jill Levine, a Jewish New Testament scholar.

After a detour through Strathroy, a shopping trip at the Roots Outlet store in Cambridge, and supper at a grillin' 'n chillin' Dairy Queen, I arrived at Cheryl and Jeffy's in reasonably good time and with little incident.

The kids were still awake when I got here and 4-year old Neva informed me that while she's glad I'm here for a visit, next time I have to bring more people from my house with me. I will be very glad to oblige.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saturday Morning at the Movies

Rei and Shelley went to the movies this morning. The local theatre was showing a couple episodes of Dora the Explorer, so they made a special Mommy-Daughter day of it.

Rei was very excited coming home about everything they did: they saw Dora, but it was kind of loud; they went to Early Years; they had lunch at a restaurant that had a picture of a fish on it; and they bought some groceries and a newspaper for me.

Kai and I had a quieter morning as he napped, I did some sermon writing and some Carcassonning. We had ramen noodles for lunch and played his blanket game.

Happy times, all around.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I finally realized today was Friday the 13th at supper when I heard it mentioned on CBC. Good thing I didn't know that when I was in the midst of a busy day with the kids: going to Tales for Tots at the library; travelling to London, via Strathroy where I retrieved my forgotten Nalgene water bottle; stopping in at the regional church office to drop something off and pick something else up; and our Asian food store for some short-grained rice, wasabi, a cookie delight known as "Pocky" and other sundry items.

My Dashboard dictionary defines triskaidekaphobia as "extreme superstition regarding the number thirteen". I think maybe it needs to address the "phobia" part of the word because I superstitiously go out of my way to embrace 13.

Part of it is my contrary nature; another part is my sense of numerical justice,
to counteract the bad reputation 13 has. Let the rumours of Satanic affiliation begin to ripple through Arkona. After all, I am a proud member of The United Church of Canada...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

1⅓-Years Old

Speaking of birthdays, now that Kai's 16 months old, he's created a new game to play. He'll cover his head with a blanket and go running off full speed until he falls down or bumps into something.
Kai 16-month
He hasn't hurt himself too badly yet. Do the Jackass antics begin so soon in life?

It's Snow Joke

Leaving the church office at noon, I was somewhat surprised to find snow flying about and a lovely, fleeting layer of white on the landscape.

I would have thought putting snow tires on the car last weekend would have precluded such weather for the time being; apparently not. I saw much of the snow through the window of the car dealership as I did some sermon writing during an oil change, installation of new spark plugs and fuel filter, and repair on the fuel line itself.

I experienced much of the snow firsthand through the windshield of the car as I drove to get the kids from daycare. It was an unsettling grey-green sky that reduced visibility and piled snow upon on the wipers. Although by the time we were headed back home, the sun was out and things were clear.

Rei was delighted to see all the snow. I had hoped we'd get beyond my brother's birthday, maybe even Hallowe'en before our first fall.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tryptophan Hangover

Recovering from the stuffing of turkey we had this weekend with the second of two family gatherings in two days.

Sunday afternoon we met up at the family farm for exploring the garden, fawning over the kids and some good old-fashioned, photo-captured, feasting.

Monday was a sleepy day of idle puttering and getting ready for Monday School in the afternoon at the church. It's our answer to lack of attendance at Sunday School – moving the time of our program and we've built up a devoted core group of kids.

Yesterday was back to work/daycare for everyone, although I managed to find time to take advantage of the gorgeous afternoon for some golf. Who know when the next time will be? I conquered one of my foes, Hole #4, shooting par with a series of straight shots that generally ended up where I intended. The rest of the game doesn't need to be mentioned.

Flashing Lights

Today was Boys' Day and I took Kai to London with me for a couple errands and some church-related visiting. On the way home, an approaching car flashed its headlights repeatedly, signalling there was a speed trap ahead. Sure enough, but not quite as I expected, I heard a siren.

I pulled over to the side of the road, but didn't see anyone around. I saw an unmarked white car approaching in the distance, but it didn't look like a cruiser. I soon figured out the siren was part of the music I was listening to, a recent CBC Radio 3 podcast. I thought Cheryl would appreciate this aural phenomenon, given the esoteric and eclectic collection that has amassed at her household.

Continuing home, there was an OPP cruiser waiting in the bushes a few hundred metres down the road. I returned the favour, flashing my lights at oncoming traffic.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Cousin Kai's Christmas

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner (actually, the church basement did the hosting – one of the "many" "perks" of manse living) for Shelley's side of the family.

Kai was enamoured with his youngest cousin, 4 weeks old. He was continually looking for the baby, walking over, stroking his head, laughing and babbling to him. This prompted the obligatory jibes about having another baby in our family. T'hese were immediately rebuffed.

There was a Christmas exchange of gifts for the kids, given that Shelley's folks will be in Florida during the traditional yule time. Rei received a lot of new Dora items; Kai's fleet of cars and heavy machinery increased. Watching the Yankees lose was also a nice gift.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rake Boy

Once upon a time, I drew a comic strip of a quirky superhero, Rakeman. He was a stick figure with rakine hands, with an uncanny ability to rake leaves with efficiency and aplomb. Granted his superpower was of limited use and there were only so many variations on the "there-are-too-many-leaves-here!" plotline before the drama wore thin.
rake boy
I am proud to introduce Rake Boy, whose potential outstrips that of his predecessor.


It's the most wonderful time of the year: Fall.
falling leaves
Rei's been waiting most of the summer for this moment.

Uh-Oh, 2.0

Kai has reached that point in toddler development where he will send various items crashing to the floor, look down and offer his assessment: "uh oh". It's pretty cute, if not downright messy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tree Climbing

Given my despondent helplessness in the face of the world's events, I find solace in the innocence and joy in my home.
tree climb
Hopefully this will be the only instance Rei climbs atop our new Christmas tree (yes, I know, Thanksgiving and Hallowe'en haven't even happened yet... but the price was right).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Stop the World, I Want to Get off

I'm trying not to think too much about the latest child tragedy: two kids, ages 3 and 1, killed by their mother in Barrie. Hearing their ages hit a little too close to home for me. I can't imagine ... what was I saying about hell?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Education in Tragedy

I'm still trying to deal with the school shootings in Pennsylvania, given the recent shooting at Dawson College in Montreal. All this echoes too closely with the Montreal Massacre of 1989 (still woefully unknown in many circles).

I'm not an analyst, but I figure there is greater likelihood of a school shooting than a terrorist attack in our cities and villages. Where is the care and attention that is needed for these ordinary, everyday people on the verge of violent outbursts? How can someone get so disconnected from the human collective that they target innocent people gathered in schools?

In the coming aftermath, what will happen to the learning environment now that the sense of safety is lost? How can people learn in such an ethos of lock-downs, locker searches and metal detectors? What is the real message that the children then learn: don't trust others? expect the worst? superior fire power wins the day? be afraid?

I believe in heaven. As for hell, I think maybe that's where we are right now...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Margarine Lids

His latest rummaging expedition through the recycling box yielded the finest in plastic millinery.
margarine lid
We might say he's "a-head" of the fashion curve.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


To mark the arrival of fall, and to find an excuse for some friends to gather together, we invited our summer camping friends over for a kids' fun day of cake and hotdogs and play in the park. The rainy weather nixed the last option, but the expansive manse allowed for a full scattering of toys and books.

Eight kids and 12 adults was a good enough ratio to allow for some grown-up conversation and catching-up and childcare. A full complement of casseroles, munchies and desserts kept us well fed. Surprisingly few tears were shed and tantrums thrown (by the kids too) and it was a joy to see everyone before another year passed.

Friday, September 29, 2006

High Fives

Kai will now walk across the room to deliver high 5's.
You'd think he'd just hit a walk-off home run or something. Superjob!

Thursday, September 28, 2006


After finishing watching Super Size Me last night, I was inspired to go for a run this morning. I also have a craving for a Big Mac.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Long Night's Journey into Day

With Shelley away at a conference, it's been single-parenting for a couple days. With daycare, the days have been manageable and our evening routine has helped keep things even.

Last night, Rei woke up at 1:40 because of a bad dream. After a snack and story, she still couldn't relax and joined me in the big bed at 2:20.

Kai had a coughing fit at 3:30; I went to settle him before he threw up. At 4:10 he was squawking again and I re-arranged him in the crib. At 4:37, I gave him a bottle and changed his diaper. After a few incidents of him crying out again as soon as I got back into bed, I carried him around and held him in the rocking chair for 20 minutes. 5:30 I got back to bed.

Kai woke again at 7:15; which was a nice stretch of sleep, given the night. Except the kids are usually in the car and on the way to daycare by 7:20. We didn't make it on time.

I got Rei up, fed the kids breakfast, got them to daycare with little incident. I tried to make it back home in time to put the recycling and garbage out but didn't make it in time. But I was early for Bible Study.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Rei's first picture:
portrait of a lamb
I admire the placement of the lamb, at the intersection of the cushion angles on the couch. It evokes sentiments of linear fluidity cushioned by the stuffed pensiveness of the ovine subject. The white contrast on the earth tones is a profound commentary on contemporary peer pressure, socialization and the futility of belonging. Two thumbs up.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


The same day we were in Holstein for a wedding at the Optimist Community Centre, was the same day duck hunting season opened. (Which would explain the people wearing camoflague at the reception).

To commemorate this wonderful coincidence, duck calls were used to entice/coerce the happy couple to kiss. You can imagine how well Rei reacted to an echoing flock of bird calls in the enclosed room. Yet I think she maintained composure better than the flustered Justice of the Peace who apparently hadn't heard a baby cry before.
Kai, in all his toddling cuteness, was pretty oblivious to all the goings-on and was merely happy for large expanses of floor. Having a spoon didn't hurt either, The Tick would approve.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tired Knees

Lately, Rei has been self-diagnosing that her knees were tired and that she couldn't walk. Meaning that her parents would have to pick her up and carry her.

It reminds me of childhood nights when the babysitter would usher us off to bed and my brother would collapse in the middle of the hallway and mournfully wail, "I can't mooooooove."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dance, Dance

I noticed Kai was dancing along to the music today.
Dance, Dance
A few more rehearsals and they'll be ready to tour.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Expanding Vocabulary

Once in a while, I'll go through my Junk emailbox to see what the spammers are up to these days. Wading through the pharmaceutical offerings, investment opportunities and health enhancers, I saw that Maggie Crouch sent me a message with the title "guiltily methane".

Given the presence of an adverb, I presume that "methane" is being used as a verb. That brought forth a juvenile chuckle as I imagined one red-faced Maggie Crouch furtively looking around to see if anyone might detect the "smelt she dealt". (Do not click to the link to Mr. Methane, Performing Flatulist if such subject matter is offensive to you, or if you wish to retain your perceptions of my maturity).

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wiggly Party

It seems I'm not the only concert goer in the family (Rheostatic tix arrived in the mail today): Shelley and Rei are going to see The Wiggles in London on November 1. It'll be a special Mother-Daughter outing supplemented by the ongoing aftermath of Halloween candy.

Weekend Update

It's been a busy few days with some pastorally intensive situations. Isn't there some witty remark about raining and pouring?

Kids' Table

At my cousin's wedding reception this weekend, Shelley and I sat at the kids' table with some other cousins. Mind you we're all in our late 20's and early 30's now. The toasts were as to be expected: everyone looked good and cleaned up well. Apparently there were lots of juicy stories about the bride and groom, but no one delivered on the goods. It's been a while since I've been at the kids' table. And there weren't drink tickets at our plates then.

While we were at the wedding, Shelley's family was over to babysit the kids where they got to experience the energetic joy of caring for our children.

Finding Footing
Kai's spending more time on his feet than on his seat lately. Although we need to do something about his road rage.
road rage

Pedal Power
Rei is also finding her footing, this time on the pedals, and discovering she's a road warrior.pedal power
The next day when she and I were on our bikes together, I discovered how hard it is to bike slowly and maintain balance. Also, the seats aren't the most comfortable when doing so.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Irish Roots

Shelley had redeemed some of her iCoke points for 3 downloads from Universal Music (sorry Al). It's harder than I thought. Any music that I would be interested in, I already have.

So I looked for a hit song or a blast from my past that I likely wouldn't bother buying the album for; hence, "Dance, Dance" by Fallout Boy, and "20th Century Boy" by Chalk Circle. I haven't yet committed to them, I'm still browsing. It could be that I used up all my decision-making energy to purchase tickets for the Rheostatics' swan song in March.

If you have any suggestions, I'd be willing to entertain a listen to them ... although country and rap don't get much airplay here at the manse.

While browsing through the very-poorly organized database, I discovered something that will send me on a CD-buying quest. I can tell that Shelley will be overjoyed.

Black 47 is a band I discovered in the early 90's. They're a desperate fusion of traditional celtic music with hip-hop, blues, jazz, rock, soul, and punk. Fire of Freedom detailed the woes of being Irish in New York and it was quirky and fun. But I didn't think there was enough to make a career out of it, and wrote them off as a flash in the pan (I won't call them a "one hit wonder" because I don't think anything reached "hit" status).

8 studio albums, 2 compilations and an ongoing tour prove me wrong; even though the vocalist can't really pull it off, and the lyrics are somewhat suspect (rhyming "hysterical" with "America"). However, the tunes are catchy, and the narratives are entertaining ("I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave" strikes a chord with me, given my recent tussle with Ulysses).

They're so earnest and laughable, I can't help but smile as I listen. I'm no longer such a collector that I must possess all their remaining albums, but I do have my eye on a couple. Pogue mahone! No wait, I didn't mean that. How about, slainte!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Child of the Day

In a group behaviour modification effort, Rei's daycare class has instituted a "Child of the Day" idea. She woke up this morning very excited to be at daycare because she was CotD!

Today, she got to bring in some pictures of herself, presented a special toy to her peers during circle time, and enjoyed countless other perks like standing at the head of the line. Naturally, she enjoyed the star treatment.

She better enjoy the experience while she can, in a few weeks' time she'll be transitioning to the Senior Pre-School Room.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I found a 2-piece gray suit: single-breasted, high-twisted (is that a term? the "consultant" mentioned something about it...), 2-button jacket with unfortunately pleated trousers. (Unfortunate in that they're pleated, not that the folds themselves are particularly grotesque). A couple shirts, light green and purple, and matching ties completed the purchase.

Although the Renovations Sale didn't lead to any real savings. It did lead to a delay in the tailoring as the shop will be the next to be re-fitted. At least I have some new shirt/tie combos to work with for the upcoming wedding.

My sales consultant, in his concluding piece of butt-kissing, commented that they're renovating because of customers like myself. Yes, patrons like me, who buy a suit every 4 years ...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

You Are Very *

Shelley has told me that The Rheostatics have broken up. I can't say I'm shocked by the news; saddened yes, but eternally grateful for their ground-breaking contributions to the Canadian soundscape.

"After much consternation, it has been resolved that the group's March 30th, 2007 date at Massey Hall will be the last live performance for the group as they have existed for the last two-plus decades."

It's been a wonderful, melodic run; perhaps I'll see those troubadours from Etobicoke on their fateful final night?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sending out an S.O.S.

If you happen to hear Rei call out, "Ayúdeme!" it means "Help me!"; such requests take on greater urgency when made in the bathroom. Just so you know.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

No Sauce, No Suit

We went shopping in London after work/daycare. After finding a princess outfit that would fit Rei for Hallowe'en, we picked up some drive-thru McD's en route to Shelley's sister's apartment.

Once there, we discovered an astounding lack of condiments and accessories: ketchup (no big deal, there was some in the fridge), sweet & sour sauce (after being asked if we wanted sauce for the nuggets), caramel sauce for the apple slices, salad dressing, a straw for my Sprite Zero, and the toddler toy we asked for wasn't.

Seems like quality control at that establishment is slipping, it's not the first time our order (albeit different from the standard combos or Happy Meals, but not complicatedly so) has been messed up. Although, this time we couldn't go to the counter and get things corrected. What kind of clown operation is Ronald running these days?

Following our fast food misadventure, I headed out for some shopping. I went to 3 different stores, tried on 6 different suits but the right combination of style, fit, colour and price wasn't to be had. It looks like my single-breasted, 3-button, navy blue will have to do for the next couple weddings and anniversary services.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Canada Intended to Read

So Labour Day has come and gone. Congratulations to Jian Ghomeshi for completing Ulysses. Congratulations to me for not going crazy in my attempt to do the same.

I didn't even make it close to completion by the deadline: I'm on page 274 of 783. I could blame it on a number of thing like trying to tend to the family needs of two toddling children, the worship and pastoral needs of two towering churches, left little brain function to wade through the densely elusive allegory.

Also the fact that my 25¢ copy from 1961 fell apart into two distinct novellas with a scattering of single leafs crammed back into place, alluded to my pre-destined failure. Although I will slog on through the pages to eventually finish the book Canada intended to read.

I had made a vow not to read any other book until I finished Ulysses. Now that the Labour Day deadline has passed without incident, I'm turning to my stack of neglected, borrowed library books: I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe; You Went Away, Timothy Findley; The Way the Crow Flies, Ann-Marie MacDonald; Sailing to Sarantium, Guy Gavriel Kay; Our Lady of the Forest, David Guterson; Disobedience, Jane Hamilton ...

My first post-Joyce foray is as far from early-20th century Ireland as I can get: The Road to Dune, a companion book to Frank Herbert's sci-fi epic, with original drafts, deleted scenes and correspondence. I noted that another trilogy based on Arrakis and its Spice is forthcoming; Shelley will be so happy for me. "The Spice must flow."