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.