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.