Thursday, August 30, 2007

Children of the R3-30

Our Monday mornings have nestled into a comfortable routine. One of the first things to do is download the latest podcast of the R3-30, CBC Radio 3's chart show. This provides the soundtrack to our car ride to Glencoe Presbyterian where the Ontario Early Years has a drop-in program. It's part of my effort to be a visible presence in the community, get to know some of the locals and spend quality time with Rei and Kai.

It seemed that they were paying particularly close attention to the podcast this week, bopping along to songs, and delighting in the sound effects and jingles. Rei even chided the host for his use of the words "stupid" and "shut up". I'm planning on writing to the show (and by "write", I mean "email") and let them know how positively the kids respond to the podcast. I may even try to get a couple of CBC Radio 3 slide whistles out of the deal.

Meetings Galore

Into my third week and things at the church have ramped up in terms of getting ready for the fall. During three of the last four evenings, I've had four meetings: Ministry and Personnel, Session & Unified Board, and a planning meeting of the Southwest Middlesex Regional Rural (maybe it's Rural Regional ... still trying to figure everything out) worship service planned for next month.

I had stated that to help keep my work-life balance in order, I'd commit to no more than 6 church-related evenings a month. Even in the typically slow summer month of August, I've managed 5. The learning curve is pretty steep but it's still fun.


Reiko is now registered for dance lessons. After doing some calling around and gathering information, we decided to go with a non-profit studio which means some fundraising and "volunteer" work is involved, but the fees are more reasonable and there will be a recital each year.

She now has some dance slippers that she's been practising in and Kai insists he needs to wear dance shoes too. He spent the evening in an old pair of his Robies soft-soled slippers.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Moonlight Escape

We tried to go camping. After Rei had asked a few times about going camping, we picked a weekend in nearby Warwick and she was excited to sleep in her red sleeping bag with her red pillow in a tent.

It turns out that once again, theory is more appealing than actual practice. The weather wasn't great: a grand summer thunderstorm blew up in the evening; timing-wise it was for the best, the tents were set-up and supper had been consumed. The kids were a little weary of being tent-bound for so long and they had trouble getting to sleep.

There was some more rain today, but Rei was away to attend a birthday party. Everyone did well through the day, but all the activity and fresh air had the kids overtired and overly-sensitive. A pre-bed tantrum did not bode well for us and the decision was made to abort the mission and head home.

Shelley took the kids home, along with as much camping equipment as we could cram, while I stayed behind and packed up the rest. I must say it was a beautiful summer night with a lovely fullish moon. Too bad it was spent searching for tent pegs and rolling up tarps in the growing dark (in our haste, the lantern went home with Shelley and the kids).

It was during my packing that our country-loving francophone neighbour decided to strike up a conversation with me about camping gear and how we survived yesterday's storm. Nice guy, warped sense of timing.

So it's home again and I think things will be easier tomorrow morning now. I was going to have to wake up early to come home to Strathroy, because the printer at the church office is too old to interface with the laptop; then head into Glencoe to get things together and ready for the first worship service in Appin. Seeing as the first leg is now completed, I can finish and print everything up and be ready to go first thing. Once I get the campfire-smoke smell out of my skin and hair; unless I'm feeling a John-the-Baptist-kind-of-mood...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Front Page Challenge

What a difference some time and perspective makes. Recovering from yesterday's near-death experience, it was back to the ordinary and everyday work of churching in a small town.

I didn't think it would happen this quickly, but Puppet Jesus and I are on the front page of the local paper, in the sidebar/index referring the reader to page two. There's a full write-up of last week's Vacation Bible School and another shot of me with the Senior Kindergarten class chatting it up with Puppet Jesus. He received the warmest welcome ever; the kids were lining up to give him hugs.

There's no website, but Google tells me microfilm of past issues is available!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Facebook Obit

In what has been an emotionally fraught afternoon, I'm so thankful for a happy ending. For those unfamiliar with The Facebook's social networking capability, there is a "status" line that people can comment about their day, make a witty remark or describe their mood.

This afternoon, I noticed that a friend's status line said she died in a car crash yesterday. ???? After scouring on-line newspapers, obituaries and funeral home sites for more info, and not finding anything, I didn't know what to think. It's a rather morbid and abrupt method of communicating bad news, albeit an effective one. I had shed some tears at the possibility of a bereaved young family, a promising career now lost and a dear friend gone.

Turns out everyone is OK; it was an inexplicable hoax that will cause her to leave The Facebook and understandably so. There were some further tears (of relief) and a renewed conviction to be more in-touch with those who are important to me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Social Life

It's been a whirlwind of visiting and hosting the past few days. Friday was a trip north of Goderich to see Cheryl and her family and parents at their cottage; Saturday, my parents brought supper while Shelley went out with her sister and cousins who were visiting in London; Sunday, those same cousins (and sister) came over to see the house; and yesterday was Jeffy and Cheryl again, this time on our turf.

And tonight our realtor dropped by for a visit and check-in. I guess we're into full-on entertaining and housewarming mode now. There are still boxes left to unpack, knickknacks to place, and artwork to hang. The office/guest bedroom is a mess, but if you're coming over, we'll be glad to see you!

Monday, August 20, 2007

My Two Moms

Jeffy and Cheryl and the kids came over for a visit; it was nice to acquaint them to our new digs. The kids played very well together and an enjoyable time was had by all.

With two women answering to "Mom" in the house, there was a moment when neither was sure who was needed when the call of "Mom!" came from the rec room. They called back, "Do you mean Reiko's mom or Neva's mom?"

Once the precedence was set, the next time Reiko called up "Mom!" it was immediately followed by Neva's voice clarifying, "Reiko". Needless to say that prompted much giggling from the adults. It's good that the kids appreciate the value of clear communication.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


During the coffee time after worship, someone came up to me and joked, "So I guess you're a DJ too?" My puzzlement must have shown on my face, so this person explained, "I typed your name into Google..."

My first thought was, They found this blog already? Not that it's any great secret, but it's a little early in the relationship to be so self-revealing (says the guy chronicling details of his days to the entire Internet). I wondered if updating my little Radio 3 playlist was considered DJ-ing, although my selections are more mood-driven and event-based than musically-linked through theme or beat or lyric.

It turns out there is a hip-and-happening DJ in Japan who is the first hit when my name is entered into the Google engine (I guess it's his name too). I'm sure there's a reality TV show that would take people with the same names and swap them into each other's jobs for a week.

I think I'm the B-Boy with the mike. Just like on Sundays. Sort of.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Price of Success

The song of the day is by Canadian hip-hopper k-os. Unfortunately (?) due to his commercial success and acclaim, his work is unavailable at New Music Canada, the source of the blog-embedded music player.

After listening to his songs in the car, Kai learned the word "B-boy". Instead of hearing the song here, you can at least observe Kai's "B-boy Stance":

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Glencoe Vacation Bible School is in full-swing this week. This morning, I toured around with the co-ordinator to the various sites (Presbyterian, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, United churches and the Oddfellows Hall) meeting many of the volunteers and community pillars that make the VBS run. I'm looking forward to a cooperative and collegial relationship with the other churches in town.

While many have commented and complimented me on my memory with names, I fear that tomorrow most of that data will have evapourated into the ether. I also will likely be unable to recall their particular church affiliation. But that's only natural: they all look the same to me.

Morning Run

I planned for a morning run (it's a little cooler in the day, less mosquitoes) today after seeing Shelley and the kids off to work/daycare. Once they left, I remembered that we hadn't given Kai his antibiotic for his latest ear infection. I called Shelley but she wasn't answering her cell phone.

I grabbed his meds, jumped in the car following their trail and kept calling her phone. As I was leaving Strathroy, she answered (it was on "vibrate") and decided to wait by the side of the road for me to arrive. A few minutes later, I pulled over, dosed my son and returned home. And that was my morning run.

Ironic endnote: So I go for a run after supper and after my return, realized that Kai didn't get his evening dose. Except he was now too sound asleep to administer his meds, even though he's just down the hall and not kilometers away.

Monday, August 13, 2007

House Tour

I found the camera cable! We can continue our colourful house tour.

Rocky Road in the kitchen (ignore the 80's cabinetry):
Kitchen Rocky Road

The living room is one shade deeper, Cabot Trail:
Living Room Cabot Trail

And the Rec Room befits my undergraduate degree, Nature Lover:
Rec Room Nature Lover

The walls are pretty much ready for hanging our artwork and a few more boxes can be unpacked.
Box living

High CQ

For the first Sunday at the new pastoral charge, things went fairly well. I fumbled my way through the order of service, learning a different flow, but everyone was quite gracious and we worshipped.

Given this is summer, there were some unusual aspects to the morning. Most striking of these anomalies was the high CQ (Clergy Quotient). In addition to the Presbyterian minister (whose church is on August hiatus) in attendance, a colleague from my former presbytery who lives in my current neighbourhood was also there, plus a former minister of the churches has retired in the community and attends.

It sounds like my Presbyterian colleague at the other point will be dropping in on a future Sunday as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More Update Lowdown

Returning to the recent recap:

... music ...
While we were painting the house, we were tuned into the local rock station that continues to include too much Nirvana and Pearl Jam (sorry, Urs!) in their rotation. I was pleased to hear some of my discoveries from CBC Radio 3 like Saint Alvia Cartel and Pink Mountaintops breakthrough to the mainstream. We always knew when it was 2:00 because the DJ would sign off with the instruction for us to "stay awesome".

We celebrated Shelley's birthday with the purchase of Tegan & Sara's newest release, the reigning queens of Canadian twin lesbian rock. I continue to be entertained and enlightened by the Radio 3 podcasts and have added their latest innovation to this blogsite so that you can hear the Song of the Moment for yourself.

The kids enjoy having Treehouse TV and Shelley and I have taken a fancy to the Food Network. We're making use of the time-shifting to see our shows and figuring out the PVR. I can remember a time when we could only see a TV show during the time it was aired. If we missed it, we missed it and had to wait until the next week to see it again.

...Save me Jeebus, indeed!
Puppet Jesus is safely packed and stowed in his diaper box, on his shelf in the church office. Although the last time he was out, Kai was mildly intrigued once the initial terror wore off and Rei was decidedly less frightened. I'll introduce PJ to the churches when the time is right; it'll be his Second Coming.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Update Lowdown

Saturday night and I'm uncharacteristically finished my preparation for tomorrow's inaugural worship services with the "new" churches.

I imagine it's time I eventually recapped the past few weeks as I mentioned earlier (and I have one more entry to complete the recounting of our anniversary cruise too).

The church of ...
The primary reason for my delinquency in blogging frequency has been the move to a new pastoral charge and into the throes of home ownership. I don't know if there's much more to say beyond the heart-stopping moment when I closed the door to the manse for the last time and I thought, "Oh no! I don't have my keys; I'm locked out!"

A reflex response that really brought me to the reality that I'm leaving and it's time to go. For so long I've thought, and still do, that it's really not goodbye because we won't be that far away. But for the sake of professional boundaries and collegial respect, I'll be keeping my distance. Although the world of the church is a very small place and I know paths will cross again.

... basketball ...
NBA referee Tim Donaghy has been fixing games and point spreads for the mob. Kevin Garnett is traded to the Celtics. Does either story surprise me? Not really. Do they make me sad? Yes.

I tried reading Ann-Marie McDonald's As the Crow Flies but I had to stop. Some Bad Things Happen to Children in it that I got stuck on. Usually, I'm able to push through such developments to see how things resolve but not this time.

I did plow through Harry Potter: The Finale and found it was an appropriate and fitting end to the saga. **spoilers follow** In the grand scheme of things, there were no big surprises: Dumbledore was really dead, Snape was vindicated, Harry saves the day and the expected romantic pairings were made. But you know all of this. I found the Christ-like parallel of self-sacrifice in the face of death and the following "resurrection" rather ham-handed and didn't notice the similarities of the teen wizards and witches to Tolkien's LoTR's hobbit quest (which Jeffy pointed out for me). As for what's next? I'd love for J.K. Rowling to re-tell the entire series through the eyes of Neville Longbottom.


It's barbeque season and the new home lends itself well to outdoor dining. I've been trying a few meals with hickory wood chips in a smoke box. I'm not sure my palate can discern the flavour in the food, but it sure smells nice on the grill.

Haven't seen a lot. Or any. Hold on, we watched Wallace and Gromit in "Night of the Were-Rabbit" on DVD while we waited for and I saw most of "Cars" while waiting at the Walk-In Clinic with Kai. Even though Harry Potter 5 and The Simpsons movies were released into theatres, I think we'll be waiting a while still before getting to them.

I'll finish up with "music" and "TV" and "Jeebus" later. Big day tomorrow, I need my beauty sleep.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

First Day at Work

Operating on the long-standing notion that Office Hours were Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I arrived at the church (with its sign out front offering a cordial welcome to yours truly) to find no one was there. I made a couple calls and someone arrived to let show me the secret passcode to unlock the key to unlock the door.

With my laptop still unpowered, I thought I could use the desktop in my office - yes, a real office with doors and windows and walls - but soon figured out (after brushing up on my Windows '98 lore) that I couldn't connect online. While my computing skills were curtailed, HandyDaddy appeared as I helped re-erect (not to be confused with "resurrect") the Organist Parking sign.

I sampled some fine family dining for lunch, did some reading for the sermon and got a new ID card at the local hospital. Then it was home for some lawnmowing and weedeating before Shelley and the non-contagious kids returned.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Nothing Rash

There's too much catching up to do, it'll have to be done piecemeal over the next little while. I may end up giving a categorized summary of our last few weeks as events and stories relate to the tagline description of this very blog.

Yesterday, in the humidity and heat, we noticed that Kai had developed a rash on his face. I wondered if it might be a heat rash, thereby putting him in good independent Canadian company - CBC Radio 3's host Grant Lawrence was complaining of a similar ailment. More seriously, we wondered if it was an allergic reaction to the antibiotic Kai was taking for his latest ear infection.

I called Telehealth Ontario and spoke with a nurse who suggested that it was likely a viral infection following his fever of last week; nothing abnormal. He went to daycare this morning and we informed his teachers of his situation and our efforts to ensure the public safety of their institution.

While on the phone with Apple to arrange for a new power adapter (replaced free of charge - I knew things would work out when the "on hold" music was Counting Crows, the powers of Ursula were smiling upon me), call waiting kept interrupting. The daycare called to say that some other kids also had a similar rash and that parents/caregivers were asked to take their children to a doctor to confirm it was not contagious.

I couldn't get an appointment anywhere with anyone, plus Kai's health card was in the other car, so I picked him up for a Boys' Half-Day at home. Once we got his health card, I took him to the After-Hours clinic in town where we waited for a couple hours to find out exactly what we knew already: viral infection, not contagious.

Considering he was missing supper and encroaching on bedtime while we waited, Kai was extremely good-natured and charming. He must take after his father (and by that, I mean me, of course).

Friday, August 03, 2007


We're settling in and things are finding there way to their proper places. Internet access is finally up and running. Although the frayed and fickle power adapter for the iBook started smoking and sparking tonight and I had been using the laptop unplugged, seeing if my internet problems were isolated to a specific phone jack (or any of the 10 ethernet ports available in the house), so the battery is too low to use and there's no way to recharge it.

And it's the long weekend so Apple Customer Service is on holidays, leaving me unable to wrangle a replacement part until Tuesday. So it's back to the desktop re-learning keyboard shortcuts, etc.

Soon you'll get a gushing backlog of what's been memorable and mentionable in our lives. And once I find the camera cord, I'll post some more pictures of our place. But there more important matters to attend to: Harry Potter. Don't tell me what happens, I've managed this long to avoid the spoilers.