Thursday, May 31, 2007

Western Investment

Rei's latest favourite Canadian indie song is "If You Wanna Go" by Vancouver's The Western Investor. By virtue of its charting on the nationally-compiled top-30 list, it has been a number of podcasts.

Apparently, this band has been the centre of a Wikipedian debate about the merit of the group's entry. One contributor in particular deemed them too obscure and nominated the webpage for deletion. Such is the peril of open-source collaborations and do-it-yourself resourcing: one person's vital truth is another person's triviality.

Canadian artistic pride prevailed and the masses kept the page in the venerable on-line encyclopedia so The Western Investor is safe for now. If only Stephen Colbert could rally to this cause, as he did for the African elephant.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

5ive Alive

I played Yahtzee this afternoon at the local school with my Student Buddy through Big Brothers. As we approached the endgame I had my Yahtzee, 3-, 4-of-a-kinds vacant and he had his Yahtzee and 3's open.

I rolled some 5's. And some more. And Yahtzee'd with 5 fives. My buddy rolled a mixed hand, ending up with a couple 3's for his score.

My next turn, against the odds, I rolled another 5 fives. I scored that as my 4-of-a-kind.

His next turn he rolled some 5's. And some more. His last die was cast and it came up 5, for his Yahtzee.

Which left my last turn. Any guesses? Yes. Five more fives for my 4-of-a-kind. Our last five turns yielded 20 fives.

What are the odds? At one point in my life I could have calculated those odds. I still can, but I choose not to, fearful that such an endeavour would contravene The United Church of Canada's policy statement on gambling.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Gone, Will Proclaim the Word

The 83rd Annual Meeting of London Conference of The United Church of Canada concluded with a second helping of ordaining/commissioning/designating worship. The business was uneventful with little controversy or debate, the theme "Go then Proclaim the Word" sparked an internal juvenile response of: "Fine then, I'm gone!"

This was my first conference in a few years where I didn't have other duties to tend to, such as working with the Youth at Conference or being ordained myself. Various people, seeing that I was at loose ends, approached me about taking on a variety of jobs or positions. I declined.

I enjoyed the lighter load of responsibility and the opportunity to partake in after-hours revelry and companionship. I found some new buddies, participated in the local nightlife and learned what "Manpower", Ridgetown-style, is like.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Church Conference Time

My bags aren't packed, I'm not yet ready to go. London Conference's Annual General Meeting begins tomorrow in Ridgetown, the place where Shelley and I met so many years ago.

I'll be teeing off in a charity tournament for the Fairfield Museum in the morning, but the real fun and games begin with the Constitution of the Court as we tend to the oversight and governance of the United Churches of southwestern Ontario and Algoma.

In all seriousness, I do enjoy these meetings (despite the numerous crossword puzzles that I'll complete: they help me focus and pay attention) and am intrigued about a presentation about church mission in the age of empire.

This will likely be my last transmission until my return on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Captain Kai

Kai has lately determined that he prefers to be transported by vehicle (wagon, stroller, toy car) than walk on his own:
capt. kai
He still talks about "Papa's boat".

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Mostly just a check-in to say we're still here and we're doing well. I'm not sure where the time has gone, things have been busy ...

Shelley was away for most of the week at a conference and then with the kids to her parents' cottage for the holiday weekend.

I've been busy with churchy work and preparing for the Annual General Meeting of London Conference.

Rei is enrolled in "School's Cool", a school-readiness program administered by Shelley's work.

Kai has kept himself entertained with pebbles and stones, placing them in inconvenient spaces of our cars and in his mouth.

Sorry there aren't many details, things have been a blur.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Green Team

With Shelley's parents visiting this weekend, we took advantage of their abilities and talents in childcare, gardening and automotive maintenance. After tending to my last Breakfast/Bake Sale of the church (with a prestigious turn at the grill), it was mowing the lawn, raking up the last of the leaves and reapplying woodchips to the gardens.

Shauna and John came by and we took the snow tires off her car. Barbequed steak for supper and it seems we're getting ready for summer.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Interior Designs

After a trip to IKEA, the colour palette for the new house is coming into focus. We selected the bedding for Kai's room (pictured on the right) to pick up on the monkey/Jungle Boogie theme.

Rei made her choice (seen on the left) we added matching drapes and cushions to the shopping cart. With all the colours in play, we may just go with neutral walls.

It's fun to play house.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

He's the DJ

Perched upon a dump truck, wearing earphones and freestyling into a shovel-hairbrush microphone, Kai spins the latest and greatest in toddler tunes.
DJ kai
And such is the raving nightlife of Arkona.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Remember Rei?

Making her appearance on the blog (meaning she deigned to allow me to take her picture):
may rei 2007Always appreciative of irony, she'd just "taken a picture" herself before I snapped this one.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In a Hurry

We've been enjoying the warm weather, eating supper outside the last few days. While it's nice to revel in the great outdoors, the boundary between family dining and outside play is easily overcome.
extreme kai
Apparently Kai wasn't a fan of supper tonight.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Interview Went Well

In the vein of school readiness preparation and assessments, Rei has been subjected to a number of quizzes and questionnaires. They gauge her fine- and gross-motor skills, literacy and numeracy skills, problem-solving and other aspects of her awareness. Turns out she's been paying attention to these ministrations.

Today as I was folding and putting away laundry, Rei put me through my paces. She asked: "What do you do when you are tired? hungry? thirsty? What do you like to eat? Balance on one foot. Raise your arms in the air; make circles with them." After each question, she would write in her notepad.

If only the quiz for parenthood was this straightforward.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Yankee Withdrawal

After a week of Study Leave, days scheduled from 8:45 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., I wasn't going to be ready to produce a worship service for Sunday. My practice has been to include the Sunday after as part of the Study Leave.

Our initial plan was to go to church in Sarnia and see one of my minister friends. Instead, we decided we'd cross the border for some kids' summer clothes shopping at Target. Perhaps this was compensating for all the money that I didn't spend at the Princeton bookstore, or I didn't get enough of America in the week previous.

Another Sarnia minister friend of mine assures me that I'm going to hell, not for skipping church (surely the 2 worships per day while at Princeton have to count for something), but for cross border shopping. In that, I guess I'm guilty as charged.

Although, we did pick out a cute monkey motif for Kai's bedroom in the new house. My soul is a bunch of bananas.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Last Chance at the Manse

This afternoon we hosted Shelley's university housemate reunion. The Party of F-Five has expanded to include honourary members, partners and children; it was a busy afternoon of appetizers, childcare and catching up on each others' lives (apart from what is already revealed on The Facebook).

As the festivities came to a close, we reflected that this was their "last chance at the manse". It feels strange to start counting things as "last time in this house" and knowing that there will be more of them to come.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Voyage Home

Almost 13-hours after leaving the hotel I arrived home, safe and sound. We stopped at Princeton Theological Seminary for a picture of all of us riding in the minivan for an Observer article that Pat's been asked to write. After connecting with the Presbyterians, we managed to stay together until the first pitstop for gas and coffee break.

Soon afterwards, we noted that we managed to lose them. Wondering if they had taken a hidden shortcut, we pressed onward to the Cracker Barrel near Binghamton, NY, a pre-arranged lunch location. We saw our companions on the journey arrive 20-minutes later. While there, the sight of parents with their young children stirred memories of home for all of us and we became antsy to get back.

By 4:00 we were back in Tim Horton's territory and back over the border by 6:10. All in all, we only missed a couple highway exits and were in our respective homes in good time. I returned to a sick Rei (maybe an ear infection?), a restlessly sleeping Kai, and a happy-to-see-me Shelley. And I am happy to be seen.

Homeward Bound

Our bags are packed, we're ready to go. As the Ontario caravan prepares for its 11-hour voyage home, we're hoping we can keep contact with the Presbyterians en route. I think I have enough American money left for food today.

I leave having stuffed my head with new theories, strategies and ideas; I've strengthened and expanded a network of wonderful, like-minded colleagues with excellent ministries; and as is always the case, began some marvellous friendships.

I am glad for this time of study, sabbath and growth. I'll be more glad to be home again with Shelley and the kids. To misquote Shakespeare: "Good night, sweet Princeton"; it's time to get back to Mykona.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Not Being There

There was a funeral this morning for a pillar of the church community and I was hundreds of miles away in Princeton, NJ. Needless to say, I had much guilt about not being there.

A colleague in the neighbouring town, who is also close with the family, has taken the service and I emailed her some thoughts and memories I wanted to share. She emailed me the full text of the service this morning.

At 11:00, during break and skipping out on a lecture/workshop, I sat under a tree and read through the service. I felt it was the least I could do.

One of the things I had said I was looking forward to about being here was the chance to simply be a participant. There were no leadership responsibilities or expectations on me, I could just be a worshipper, a student in a class, someone standing in line for supper.

This morning, by my being away, I could, again, simply be someone who was mourning and grieving senseless loss. My leadership responsibilities were fulfilled and I could just be me. I read through the words, assured that back in Forest, those same words were being shared with a packed church sanctuary. Outside under a tree, I cried and sent my prayers and thoughts back home. We are connected in many and mysterious ways.

As I noted the dandelions pushing through the green lawn, I’m reminded again that life will continue to stubbornly push through and make itself known. The power of love and growth cannot be stopped. We will go on and I can feel OK with the world.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hockey Star

One of the unofficial annual traditions of this conference is a floor hockey game between the Canadians and Americans. I hadn’t played any form of hockey since elementary school and my attitude toward the sport in general is indifference at best. Nevertheless, my patriotic duty was to represent the honour of our home and native land.

I acquitted myself well, surprising myself with two goals and two assists. I’m not so good in the open floor, but can really scrap in the corners and along the boards. As a result of our epic battle, I have a few floor burns on my elbows and knees, coming mostly from the victory dance and celebration of my first goal (ever) that had me sprawling/sliding along the gym floor in skin-screeching glory.

Such are the battle scars of sporting greatness.

Señor Pastor

I was speaking with an earnest, newly-graduated student who’s working as a youth minister. He confided that his great hope is that one day he could be a Senior Pastor. I’m not surprised that there is a hierarchy placed on the status of pastors (Associate, Youth, Assistant?, Senior – I’m not sure what the ranking is, only that Senior is where it’s at). Mind you, many people here come from churches that have membership in the thousands and large staff teams.

When people asked me if I was the Youth Pastor of my church, my response had been, “Uhm… I’m the Only Pastor at my churches.” My new American friends are encouraging me to play up the fact that by virtue of my situation, I am the Senior Pastor.

I don’t know what I’ll do with all the new-found respect and deference that will come flooding my way now.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Double Entendre

In conversation with an American youth pastor, I shared that if I ever start a band, I’d name it “The Flaming Gaze”, spelling it out for him: G-A-Z-E. The logo would be an eye ball beaming rays of fire, akin to Peter Jackson’s representation of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings movies (although I had staked a claim to the name and logo 12 years ago, PJ ripped me off).
I excitedly carried on about my hypothetical band and my companion interrupts: “You know there’s a double entendre in that, don’t you?”

Seeing that I could have some fun with this, I furrowed my brow and pondered, “Double entendre? I’m not getting it.”

He eludicated, “You know, it could be like ‘Flaming Gays’, G-A-Y-S.”

Me: “Really? Huh. I hadn’t thought of that.”

He appeared to be quite pleased with himself. Americans, they take themselves so seriously.

Garden State

In preparation for coming to New Jersey, I was picturing Tony Soprano’s gritty, grimy, industrial underworld. Instead I discovered that it truly is the Garden State. The season of spring is in full bloom here, a couple weeks further along than home.

The grass has shed its early arid yellow-brown for vibrant green, the leaves are filling in the branches, there are lovely purple and pink blossoms on the trees, gardenias (at least I think that’s what they are) are in full bloom and the lilacs are emerging.

The weather has been lovely which I think has made me more appreciative of these gorgeous days. And I’ll get to see it happen again when I get home.