Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Genius of John K. Samson

I was delighted to discover CBC Radio 3's "Song of the Day", newly available as a podcast, is "Utilities" by The Weakerthans. Unreleased on any of their studio albums, it exhibited the wondrous lyrical majesty that is John K. Samson's gift for image through word.

I also finished reading Lullabies for Little Criminals, by Heather O'Neill, the book that the same John K. Samson is championing for Canada Reads 2007. I have to say I liked it less than his previous pick, Miriam Toews' a complicated kindness.

was infuriating, disturbing and distressing, compelling me to read on to see exactly how bad things got, but with enough hope and promise that compelled me to push through for a happy ending. I guess that dichotomy marks the book as one that Canada should read. JKS knows what he's talking about after all.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Shelley and I decided today was Passport Day. I was on the road at 6:30 a.m., arriving just as the doors of the London Office opened at 7:30 (the office itself opened at 8:45). Upon the recommendation of others, we had completed the application online and I was relegated to the "F" waiting pool. I received a number and patiently waited.

Shortly after 9:00, feeling somewhat hopeful at kiosk 7 (Rei's favourite basketball player, Andrea Bargnani), I was suddenly nervous – like finding the exam paper before me was not what I studied. Not that it's the end of the world should there be problems, but with so much time and running around for photos and guarantor signatures and the like, it would nice to have things done and away.

Turns out one of the signatures was touching the forbidden border of the signing space, just barely. So I had some further running around to do. By the time things were corrected, I was back at 11:30. Group A (who had not completed their applications on-line) had 13 applications processed; Group F was now serving 43.

So the lesson is that it's worth the bandwidth to apply on-line for your passport. When it comes to passport signatures, colour inside the lines. But don't ask me where to park at the London passport office.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Not a Fan of the Dramatic Arts

This afternoon at Monday School, I attempted to relate the Bible lesson through the eyes of Abram. I prefaced the story asking the kids to use their imagination and pretend that I wasn't me. Such a notion filled Rei with distress and dismay as she clung tightly and mournfully cried, "I don't want you to be someone else, I want you to be my daddy!"

In other resistance to drama, I had a Palm Sunday idea of an episode of Dora the Explorer: Dora and friends could be trying to get Jesus to Jerusalem. After consulting with Map, they learn: first, they have to go through the Village (where they find a donkey to ride on); then across the Icky-Sticky Mud (where they lay coats over the mucky road to make it passable); that's how they get to Jerusalem.

Come on, vamanos, everybody let's go ...
Where are we going? Jerusalem! ...

Once they arrive, they'll have a party with palm branches, singing and dancing.

We did it, we did it, we did it,
Hosanna! ...

Upon broaching the topic with the kids, the idea was soundly rejected. "No! Not Dora, anything but Dora! Or Barney! Or Teletubbies!" So it appears that Dora will not be exploring in Arkona this Palm Sunday; but if anyone out there has opportunity or inclination to use this idea, be my guest.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

All Gore, All the Time

Well, he did invent the Internet. I guess I can't begrudge Al Gore his crusade against global warming either. Yes, "his" documentary received the Oscar, how convenient!

But to see the Academy gushing over the almost-President's contribution to eco-politics was a bit much. Testimonials and witness from Melissa Etheridge, Leonardo DiCaprio, et al. credited him with PowerPointedly raising consciousness about this suddenly pertinent issue.

I'd rather someone like David Suzuki, or even Lucien Bouchard championing the cause in 1988, receive some recognition for railing against the emissions long before it became sexy.

True, Al Gore has done a lot with his profile to make a change for the positive with his influence. But if he becomes the champion of the earth, no one else has a role or responsibility – kind of like waiting for Jesus to come back and make the world right for us.

Did I just equate Al Gore to Jesus the Christ? I guess this post has backfired.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cozy Corner Café

It seems we have kitchen elves working behind the scenes.
kitchen elves

Friday, February 23, 2007

"She Likes Cloth"

In the latest episode of Teen Girl Squad, Whats-her-face's attempt to garner a valentine results in the assessment that "She Likes Cloth" could be a band name.

The other day in the car, Rei and Kai were bopping along to The New Pornographers' "Sing in Spanish Techno" when Rei asked "Who sings this, Daddy?" Not wanting to introduce the word "pornographer" to her vocabulary, or explain its meaning, I declined to answer, distracting her instead with some more of the same music.

So now she wants to dance to "Loud Music". I may end up referring to them as A.C. Newman & Friends or the Neko Case Connection. Or She Likes Cloth.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Playing It Safe

I had entertained the notion of going to Grand Bend tonight for a game of pick-up basketball. It's the first Thursday night that I've been able to go but the windy, snowy weather and the likely prospect of me being the only one to show up convinced me to heed Shelley's advice and stay home.

Instead of a cardio workout on the gym floor and exercising my hand-eye coordination, I lay on a couch reading, computing, and half-watching TV as I ate curry-flavoured potato chips and tipped back a Moosehead. Either way, I'm a happy guy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Onion Boyz

Boys' Day began with helping out at the church making meat pies. Kai was charming and moderately helpful. Saturated with a bouquet of onions, we returned home for a nap and lunch.

While Kai slept, I showered and prepared for a pre-visitation meeting with a family for an upcoming funeral.

In the afternoon, I met Shelley at the Early Years Drop-In Centre where she played with Kai while I went to the funeral home.

More than one person at the Drop-In commented on a lingering aroma of lunch from somewhere ... onions? That would be our son. He's steeped in oniony goodness.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cap space

The recent cold spell snapped the fuel door off our 7-year old car. While in at the dealer for an oil change, they investigated the price for repair.

Because fuel door technology is constantly subject to innovation and improved design, a new door would also require a new bracket and painting the entire assemblage to match the rest of the car. This can be done for a mere $240. We're wondering what our other options are.

While the protective cover to the fuel cap is admittedly a cosmetic piece, it does lend an air of sophistication to the vehicle. If you happen to discover the fuel door of your green Ford Focus is missing, don't look at us.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Time Warp

Tonight, our congregation observed Shrove Tuesday. Yes, I know it's Monday. But the catering powers that be are otherwise engaged feeding the Lions on Fat Tuesday. So Pancake Monday it is.

I'm also working on an article about Monday School for The United Church's Seeds and Sowers, Children resource. Sunday School on Monday? Mardi Gras à lundi? There must be a rip in the space-time continuum at Arkona.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday Deadline

Again I had trouble staying awake last night while writing the sermon. Not a good sign if you're putting yourself to sleep. And I missed the All-Star dunk contest, which by all accounts was unspectacular.

So I was up too early in the morning to finish the weekly message of interpretation and inspiration. Some weeks it feels like a grind; this was one of them. Maybe it was the extra sermon preparation for Presbytery on Thursday.

Oh well, I get to do it all again next week. Same times, same places.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Money Where Your Mouth Is

One of the side stories of the NBA All-Star break is the much anticipated foot race between 67-year old referee Dick Bavetta and former player great 40-something Charles Barkley.

Seems that Sir Charles joked that he could outrun Bavetta and was promptly challenged to prove it. Hence, tonight's showdown.

In other mouthing off news, dunk contestant Tyrus Thomas (who I was gushing over last March) admitted that he was only in the contest for the money. His team promptly fined him $10 000 for making such a bone-headed remark.

Why can't (former) athletes be better role models for our youth? Could be because they're not much more than kids themselves.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I Am a Wild Party

We had my parents over for a pre-birthday supper to celebrate my dad's turning of age. Reiko and Shelley made the customary birthday cupcakes, I got to use my Valentine's gift decanter and Kai entertained all with his "jumping" ability.

All this partying has tired me out; I'm to bed early tonight.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Once Upon a Time

A recent theme running through my life has been of Fairy Tales. Not only reading and relating them to our kids, the viewing of Disney videos (Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast), but personal exploration. I guess my recent reading of Neil Gaiman's short story "Snow, Glass, Apples" spurred my interest.

This afternoon has revisited this emergent thread as CBC's Freestyle (which for whatever reason is becoming more listenable to me) observed the darkside of fairy tales in an interview with Julie Morstad.
She spoke of working with Neko Case on her latest album, "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood", one of the albums on my aural radar (does that make it sonar?), the fox confessor being a character in Ukranian folklore.

Another fairy tale I spent time with tonight, as preacher at Presbytery's opening worship, was the thought that Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians. The moral of the story: don't believe everything you read. Unless it's here in my blog space, of course.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Today's lucky number combination comes from Shelley and I attending a performance of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night". It was put on by the Grade Six class that her sister teaches. Some of those kids really love the stage!

Afterwards, we had a romantic Wendy's take-out supper and that was our Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Shelley and I visited a travel agent this morning to begin planning for our cruise. Having the booklets and itineraries to compare and contrast has been a dangerous source of waste-o the past couple days.

It looks like Rome, Genoa, Montecarlo, Valencia, Malta and Tunis will be the backdrop for our tin/aluminum anniversary. Given the impending winter storm, I'm wondering if we should have been married in February 1997 instead.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Another Atypical Monday

Shelley took the day off work so that she and Reiko could have a special "Girls' Day" together. The plan was a trip to the Children's Museum, but that was closed. Plan B was Adventures on Wonderland and that was well-received.

While Kai was at daycare, I had the day to myself so I ventured to Sarnia and did some shopping. A few items for Monday School (Valentine's Day crafts and candies) and a few items for myself (GameCube's Geist and Zelda: Wind Walker, Islands' CD "Return to the Sea", some wine, some travel brochures). Then, while having the house to myself, I filed some files, washed some dishes, and ironed a shirt. I am a wild party.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Behind the Scenes

Contrary to what the dental hygienist thought about my work week (she was quite surprised to learn I put in a full 40-hours and surprised again to learn they're not all spent on the sermon), there were a couple of technical aspects to worship that required my attention today.

In wee hours of the morning, I remembered that I needed to iron my alb; it simply wouldn't do to arrive in wrinkled vestments. Then, right before worship at Ravenswood, I was twisting and cutting a wire coat hanger to fashion a new arm wand for Puppet Jesus. I don't know if my sermon was any good, but everything else looked fine.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A New Look

Well, in the name of "progress" and the Google-ization of the cyberverse, my tenure as an Old Blogger has ended. Forced to the newer version, I didn't really like the new look of my previous template, so I took the opportunity to redesign. I hope you love it.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Somehow, during the outdoor sledding fun this morning, my house keys hopped out of my pocket. Somewhere in the Union - Smith - Church - Centre Street block, or maybe in the park, is a set of 5 keys with a red bottle opener and M&M Meats "Club Max" tag.

Upon this unfortunate discovery, Rei started digging in the snow in random places to help look while I retrieved the hidden set of spare keys to gain access into the house. After Shelley got home from work, I retraced my steps a couple times and asked at the nearby Medical and Dental offices if anything had been turned in. No.

Sufficiently cold, tired and snowblind, I conceded defeat for the day and will try again another time. Another reason to look forward to spring.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Irish Undies

Courtesy of Urs, there was a package in the mail from Ireland for Reiko. Contained within said package was a triumphant triumvirate of Dora the Exploer underwear. As Urs explained in the accompanying Miffy card, how could she resist sending them? Does this count as Rei's first foray into European lingerie?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Hot Stove Dealings

In the sports world, "Hot Stove" refers to rumours and reports of trades and deals among teams, news of transactions that are boiling over or simmering on the back burner.

In our case, things are actually on the stove and in the oven.
Hot Stove
Again, Kai warns us: "Hot!" but at least he's sporting proper equipment.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Apologist

Kai's default response to any situation these days is "Sorry" (which sounds more like "shorry"). When he drops a toy, trips or stumbles, tips a cup, bumps into something ... His use of the phrase is unerringly appropriate; it's very cute and very polite.

Although it does seem a bit early for bearing the weight of such regret and responsibility. If we were to try and convince him he had nothing to apologize for, you could guess his response: "shorry".

Monday, February 05, 2007

Can't Be Late

This afternoon as Rei and I were getting ready for Monday School at church, she was urging me on, "Hurry up Daddy! We can't be late, Monday School will be closed!" If only she knew that her dad is the one who has the ability to open up the church anytime he wants. To quote Spiderman, "with great power comes great responsibility".

EDITED to add:

The craft for the day was a "stabile" (inverted, stationary mobile, maybe?) that identified a blessing for which we were thankful. While everyone else's thanks were for family or parents, Rei's was "I am blessed by Hi-5". She must be a preacher's kid.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

In from the Cold

This morning, as I was heading from the car to the church for worship, Shelley called me over to the house to let me know the thermostat wasn't working. It was stuck at 65˚F.

I mentioned this to a member of the Manse committee who immediately got on the phone and called our furnace guy. Over the background music of our church musician, I explained the situation and he came by and fixed things for us.

A relay of some sort was not working (you can tell I know a lot about these types of things) and a new thermostat was installed.
The new, functional, thermostat showed the ambient temperature to be 59˚F, not 65. No wonder we had been walking around the past weeks in triple-layers of clothing, wrapped in comforters. Things are cozy now.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Joys of Church Governance

"What did you do on your weekend?"

Oh, I was at a specially-convened meeting of Lambton Presbytery Executive to receive feedback on recommendations made by a reviewer conducting an "investigation" into the health of a particular congregation. There's nothing like spending a couple hours listening to two sides of a story share their thoughts on who's to blame and what needs to be forgiven.

And then sequestering ourselves in a room to deliberate what actions we would take on those recommendations and how they would be implemented. Needless to say, I had a bit of a headache when it was all said and done.

I had looked forward to a carbo-laden supper out on the town as a personal reward for my patience and wisdom, but a call home suggested the weather was poor and getting home sooner would be best. So I had a ham sandwich for supper. Just like lunch. Oy vey!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Bugs and Buzzes

Shelley took the day off today and took the kids to the Tales for Tots program at the library in the morning and for haircuts in the afternoon, affording me a couple chunks of sermon-writing time during the day.

The theme at the library today was "Bugs" and apparently featured a pop-up book because Kai was flapping one of his board books (while very cutely and distinctly repeating "flap flap flap") waiting for the pop-up to pop. At the stylist's, he had the clippers taken to his shaggy mane; by all accounts everyone did a good job at the haircut place.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Within the Lines

With all the attention about Kai's rapid development, I don't want Rei's work to be lost in the shuffle. She has become more adept with her artwork and the results show more focussed effort and acumen. Take notice of her own mixing of colours to create a homemade shade of green.
in the lines
Is colouring inside the lines and applying traditional pigment schemes to objects a sign of further socialization and succumbing to accepted norms? Has our free thinker lost the ability to think outside the box? *sigh* we've created another corporate zombie of Crayola.