Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hallowe'en MMVII: Murray Returns

I'm in a new neighbourhood where the locals haven't seen my Murray Wiggle costume.
Halloween 2007

Princess Rei and Pirate Kai tricked and treated at a half-dozen homes before calling it a night. 152 visitors swarmed our place. Many of them dressed as hip-hoppers, meaning baggy jeans and a baseball hat worn on an angle. Of particular note was a very young pimp in a purple suit and a couple inventive costumes (a gift bag and an iPod) that I didn't happen to see but Shelley assured me were quite good.

I did get one compliment on my costume: "Hey, nice Wiggle pants!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Eve

I'm feeling much better today, thank you.

Reiko wore a costume to school today, going as a princess but not her Halloween princess costume because it has a hoop in the skirt making it hard to sit on the bus. Instead, she wore her "regular" princess outfit. Yes, in spite of our best efforts, we own multiple princess dresses.

We got out the kids' Halloween pumpkin-shaped treat bags after supper and Aunt Shauna rehearsed "Trick or Treat!" etiquette with them. Kai thought it was the greatest thing to put something into the bag. Tomorrow night is going to blow his mind.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Apologies to the Infected

I have a cold: sneezing, sniffling, headache, chills. Sorry to all the people I was shaking hands with yesterday. Unless one of them gave it to me ...

Anyway, it's off to the sick bed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


It's official now. After months of living together, Trinity and Appin United Churches and I are now in a church-sanctioned relationship.

The service in the afternoon was personally meaningful, having my parents and Shelley's mom there. It was a real treat to have Cheryl's dad, the Retired Reverend, preaching. We got a chance to wear our matching stoles. After the first hymn, I could hear Kai give his stamp of approval: "Yay! I like that!"

After the plentiful potluck supper that followed and corralling giddy children, came the clean-up. Seemingly from nowhere, a small orange cardboard square with the number "4" floated down from the ceiling. (OK, I guess it wasn't from "nowhere" after all). Apparently, this was a remnant of an activity that my predecessor at the churches organized for her farewell event.

We found it fitting that her spirit was present at the covenanting service too, which I took to be a good sign. Also a sign that Chris Bosh, power forward and #4 for the Raptors, is going to have a monster year. Let's NBA!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Latest Musical Crush ...

... is on Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers / Immaculate Machine. Having heard an interview with her, demonstrating wit and quirk, as well as a clear, melodic voice, won me over.

She related a story about translating a previous album's lyrics to French and re-recording and re-releasing it, because of boredom. Recently, a podcast host made an offhand joke that Immaculate Machine's newest album would be in Chinese. So they recruited a graduate student to translate the lyrics of their song "Dear Confessor" into Mandarin, learned the pronunciation, and "Wo Xiang Tanbai" was created.

Her commitment to the vision of multicultural diversity and the principle of seeing how far one can take an inside joke are character traits that I look for in my friends.

In my hall of fame, she joins the likes of auspicious sirens Amy Millan, Neko Case, Emily Haines, and Sarah Slean, as well as a couple of fellows I might "cross the street for": John K. Samson and Michael Stipe.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Great Canadian Facebook

This afternoon was family portrait day. We had a photo shoot at the Great Canadian Superstore here in town and the session went very well. The kids were agreeable and smiling, the photographer was excellent. We were very pleased.

So was the studio. As Shelley selected our prints package, she also signed a waiver permitting the publication of our picture in their sales catalog. It was explained that they didn't have many family shots with all of the kids so happy, that they wanted to include us (and possibly our ethnic diveristy?) in their facebook.

If you're not one of the lucky ones to receive a family picture this Christmas from us, you might find us in the sales material of the Superstore's portrait studio in Strathroy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Reverend Jet Li

I was working on the churches' microsites in the Wondercafé web forum: adding information, uploading pictures, etc. When it came to a photo of the minister, I didn't have any on the camera (it's filled pictures of the kids) and so I went with a picture of the actor who would play me in the Hollywood movie of my life: Jet Li.
He's so holy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Memo to JK Rowling:

So. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is gay. Very clever, Ms. Rowling. Now I have to reread the series to pick up on all the clues. Simply fabulous marketing. Are there any other "secrets" you have up your sleeve? Filch had an affair with Professor McGonagall? Butterbeer is laced with THC? Hagrid is vegan?

Although, I still think rewriting the series through Neville Longbottom's point of view is worth your while. In the meantime, I guess it's back to #4 Privet Drive once more.

Kind regards,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Joy of Presbytery Budgets

The special Presbytery meeting that was called to discuss the budget got off to a telling start. During the opening worship, where MP3 hymns were played from a laptop, the congregation fell behind the music of "Be Thou My Vision". A human musician would have adapted to the slower pace, but the digital accompaniment unwaveringly kept its time.

It was fitting that our voices never really caught up to the rest of the song. We did manage to get in sync three times throughout the hymn: at the beginning of each stanza. And we wonder why there aren't any young people in church.

It might also be the fact that during the debate of a proposed amendment, speaker after speaker would lengthily, and passionately, present arguments opposing the motion. You'd think that with such a clear sense of direction in the court, people would not get up to repeat the same opinions or that a vote might be called. Alas, it was not to be, and I suffered through self-righteous pontificating and zealous proselytizing.

And when 6 major expenses were asked to present an alternate budget line, you'd hope that more than one of them would do so.

Forgive my griping, it was too cold in the parking lot to have a proper "meeting after the meeting" and so I turn to the cybersphere for my debriefing.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Orange County

It might be safe to say the kids are happy to see me home.
orange smiles

Not Not Wasted

I have some further resources for use in my congregational life as a result of the training event, but little else in the way of new information. The workshop on the characteristics of postmodern leadership was wasted on me.

Speaking of "wasted", I didn't have to use the "I'm Not High" candies that Michelle so thoughtfully gave me yesterday. Perhaps the "I'm Not an Asian Tourist" candies would have been more practical, but having taken the on-line quiz, it seems Michelle was accurate in her assessment. Dude.

Friday, October 19, 2007


With a weekend training session in the Emerging Spirit campaign of The United Church of Canada taking place in Stratford, I'm staying at the home farm for the night. I forgot to dose up with Reactine so the sneezing and sniffling is laughably sufferable.

After the program ended this evening, I exchanged pleasantries with a number of people that I know/recognize. One person who approached me didn't offer her name, playing the "guess how you know me" game. It took a second, but I managed to remember that she was the mother of a high school girlfriend. Awkward to say the least, but "pleasant" nonetheless.

In other blasts from the past, I'm sleeping in what is now referred to as Rumiko's Room, under the dreamy, watchful eyes of Taylor Hanson. Mmm ... bop.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Two's Clues

The kids were happy to see me home. They were also happy to use the magnifying glasses that I brought back with me.
Two's Clues

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I know the reputed Queen's Homecoming was last weekend, but today was a time to browse downtown before making the long drive home. I patronized some familiar haunts: buying a pound of Dr. Joe coffee beans from The Sleepless Goat; checking used CD stores for any valuable finds or discoveries; getting a couple toys for the kids and a hematite ring for Shelley at Very Shari; searching for child-sized chopsticks and settling on a box of Pocky; and, lunch with Cheryl and Rory at The Wok-In (#4 with extra spring rolls).

I'm always curious to see what's new with Kingston like the updates to Megalo's (still Mega Portions, Low Prices!) and the exterior of Curry Village (as featured in Where to Eat in Canada), and until next time, the memories will continue to paint an idyllic portrait of collegian youth and idealism.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No Golf, More Conference

It was a full day of theological insight and catching up with my college cohorts. With an address from Executive Secretary of The United Church, workshops about the exegetical framework of Luke's gospel and preaching for the Emerging Spirit campaign, and book shopping, I was glad to take an early break for some Darbar with Jeffy, Cheryl and the kids. Then it was back for the evening lecture.

It isn't all weighty, academic pondering of our homiletical imperative. Those of us in the balcony are developing the screenplay for the latest Christian epic, "The Passion of the Clown" featuring Ronald McDonald as Jesus, Grimace as Peter, Hamburglar as Judas Iscariot and the Fry Guys as assorted disciples. Rounding out the cast Birdie as Mary Magdalene, Mayor McCheese as Caiphus the High Priest, and Captain Crook as Pontius Pilate. (Although I'm thinking that Big Mac could be Peter, with Grimace becoming John, the disciple Jesus loved most). These are the kind of things theologically trained professionals think about.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Some Golf, Some Conference

I went golfing this morning, again at Inverary Golf & Country Club. Last year, there was a foursome of Korean women eyeing me up; they were there this morning too. At least I think it was them. Although, in the year that's elapsed, a man had joined the group.

My game had its moments: some good hits and putts, many minutes searching for golf balls in the woods because I had lost all that I had in my bag...

After lunch, the conference began with a masterful sermon from Malcolm Sinclair and a giggle-ridden reunion with a dear classmate.

I had supper at the Brew Pub, slaking a craving for Dragon's Breath Pale Ale. Then it was back to the college to hear Christine Smith muse about preachers as world citizens.

One of my pet peeves are questions that aren't questions. Especially during question period following a keynote speaker's address. I'm not saying that happened tonight, but I'm not not saying that it didn't.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Pie Man Cometh

After church, I hit the highway for the marginally shorter trip to Kingston (than from Arkona) for Queen's Theological College's Annual Conference and a visit with Cheryl and the kids, her parents and Jeffy too.

En route, I stopped at Colborne's Big Apple, picking up a traditional apple pie.
And, as has been a quasi-tradition, I also dropped by Dairy Queen to bring a Skor Treatsa Pizza to my hosts.

When I arrived, Neva greeted me at the door and asked if Reiko was with me. I said, "No, she has school tomorrow." To which Neva excitedly replied that she had school too! At least this way, they can go to different schools together and one of my dad's favourite corny jokes can bear a kernel of truth.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Big Boy Bed

After weeks of asking Kai if he'd like to sleep in a big boy bed and him saying no, we decided we'd at least take the mattress out of its storage closet and set it up in his room alongside the crib.

Once it was in place, he and his sister got very excited about this new slumber development.

bed buddies

I'm not sure why Shelley and I decide to start these kinds of disruptions to our kids' routines on the eve of my leaving for extended stretches of time ... here's hoping the transition goes well.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Following The Finger

While playing outside with the kids today, we found ourselves in a game of Follow the Leader. This is usually accompanied with the soundtrack from Disney's "Peter Pan", as the kids sing
following the leader, the leader, the leader
following the leader, wherever s/he may go

In the movie, the middle child, John (I think, or maybe it's Michael) is holding up an umbrella like a drum major's baton to lead the Wild Boys through the woods. This happens right before we fast-forward through the culturally-insensitive, outright racist storyline with the "Injuns".

All this to set the scene where Reiko is the leader of our game, we're singing the song and she's waving a finger in the air pretending it's the umbrella/baton. She's happily waving the longest finger she has on her hand, because that's the most suitable one for an umbrella; they are long, after all. To the casual observer (or our next door neighbours) it looks like she's flipping them the bird.

Thankfully I managed to convince her to change her hand configuration without having to explain why.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Stop. Drop. Roll.

We're coming up on Fire Safety Week in the public schools. Reiko's class went on a field trip to the Fire Hall and I volunteered as a parent to help. I'm not sure my presence helped her embrace the newness of the experience. I don't think Rei would have been as clingy had I not been there.

Still, I was glad to be part of the morning adventure and meet some of her friends. Everyone was quite well versed in the procedure of Stop, Drop & Roll. Whenever the fire chief asked the kids a question, the answer was always an enthusiastic "Stop, Drop & Roll!" regardless of the question.

The Sparky the Safety Dog video was a little dated. I seemed to remember it from the days when I was the keener yelling out "Stop, Drop & Roll!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Last Rites

I suppose the title of the post could refer to the political career of John Tory or the demise of the logically just, but frighteningly misunderstood, Mixed Member Proportional representation system, given the results of the Ontario election.

Instead, I'm blogging about the latest loan I took out from the library: DVDs of the fifth, and final, season of Six Feet Under, the acclaimed HBO drama about a funeral directing family. Given that we have the DVDs for a week, with no renewals, (and with me leaving for Kingston on Sunday for some continuing education), we have a lot of TV to watch in the next few days.

Likely, we'll have to re-borrow them upon my return so that we can pay proper respect to the Fishers. The grieving process does take time, after all.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ice and Advil

We saw the chiropractor who diagnosed a common ailment in children: "Acute something-or-other". I did know the name at one point, it has two "l"s in it ... Some tissue pinched between some vertebrae leading to inflammation and pain.

The upshot is ice and ibuprofen, watch for fever, and give it a couple days. Which is as much as I expected, but the experience was much more pleasant than waiting for our/a doctor to find time for us.

Pain in the Neck

While getting ready for school this morning, Rei abruptly stopped and began to wail. Her neck was hurting and she couldn't move without pain.

The medical clinic wasn't open when I called about getting an appointment. I did call the school to say that she'd be absent today. After some Tylenol and a bit of time had passed, Rei was feeling well enough that her tears had stopped.

Upon further investigation, her trouble doesn't seem to be medical in nature. Rather than waste time waiting for a doctor's attention, (and with little assurance that any course of action might be prescribed), I've booked an appointment with our chiropractor for this afternoon and we'll see what can be done there.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007, III

I'm thankful that, for the first time in a week, I don't have church work to do. Which left time for work around the house to happen. A couple apple pies and an apple crisp were made by Shelley and her mom, with help from Rei and Kai.

After a barbeque lunch of burgers and dogs, we had Shelley's dad climb ladders and scamper around our roof patching shingles and caulking troughs while I stayed on the ground and supervised. I don't do well with heights; it was enough of an ordeal for me to repair a couple of kinks in the valley flashing last month, that I was happy to have someone else do the work for the cost of a beer or two.

Then it was mowing the lawn and trimming with the WeedEater. Then it was helping put the snow tires on Shauna's car which involved some "help" from Kai and an unsuccessful attempt to borrow a socket from a neighbour.

Supper was roast beef and the previously-mentioned apple pie. We're thankful for family, food and shelter. I'm also thankful that Prison Break is interesting and engaging after a dullard of a season last year.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007, II

After church and worldwide communion (always a trick the first time in a new setting: figuring out who stands where when and does what), it was off to the farm for thanksgiving with my folks.

Rei and Kai had fun playing outside in the garden, clambouring over/riding on the large, decorative, used-to-be-barn-wall rocks and entertaining their uncles and aunt. We didn't bring our camera, so you'll have to take our word at how charming they were.

Supper, instead of the advertised spare ribs, was chicken wings, partly to offer a break from turkey overload and mostly because my mom had to work today.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Turkey, Tegan & Sara

After a sweltering wedding ceremony, I headed to Exeter for Thanksgiving/Christmas with Shelley's extended family. Rei and Kai were happily playing with their cousins in the garden and with all the tractor-type toys.

Stuffed with turkey and fixings (as well as some of Shelley's Turtle Cake), she and I headed to London for the Tegan and Sara concert. Shelley's parents came back to our place with the kids, while we rocked out.

The opening act, Northern State, featured a trio of hip-hopping white grrls from New York. Not exactly my cup of tea, but they grew on me. By the end of their set, I appreciated their energy and passion for their music and could see why T&S asked them to open.

As for the headliners, it was an unremarkable show. While I enjoyed their sisterly banter and barbs, and hearing some of the stories behind the songs, their performance was rather stilted and standard.

Still, there were some fine moments such as an accelerated set where they ripped through "Hop a Plane" and "Speak Slow" (Rei's favourites) and on into "Walking with a Ghost" that had the crowd roaring.

Sara (who, by the way, is the twin who lives in Montreal) told us that we were the best crowd on the tour and then asserted that she wasn't just saying that. I may have to check with some friends in Regina to see where they ranked in the audience list.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Day at the Office

Ordinarily, Fridays are spent with the kids at home. Given that Shelley had some extra hours banked, she took the day off for a 4-day weekend.

I headed to church for the memorial service, on another gorgeous warm fall day. With a wedding rehearsal in the evening, Shelley suggested I just stay at work and get ready for Sunday in the meantime.

I had packed my golf clubs in the trunk, just in case, but not having money on-hand and with work taking longer than I thought, my duffing will have to wait for another day.

So the sermon's mostly done, an October letter to the congregations written and printed, some church committee work completed and a wedding has been rehearsed. I'm ready for the weekend.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Much of today was spent dealing with the unexpected:

Despite the warmish fall morning, there was a bus delay due to fog. I learned this after taking Rei to our bus stop and hearing a mom from across the road yell the news. So I drove a tearful Rei to school (she wanted to ride the bus and was afraid she wouldn't see her friends, C & L, today). I waited with her in the yard until the bell rang and got to meet her teacher as well as one of her friends, E.

After dealing with some of the usual church office work, I had a call from the funeral home about a graveside service tomorrow morning. As I met with the family this afternoon, there was a knock on the door. It was one of my ministerial colleagues, who will be conducting a wedding with me this weekend.

It turns out there's been a bit of a communication mix-up and the bride was upset. It took a few phone calls and messages to get things sorted out.

After getting the kids from the bus and daycare, we had a picnic supper in Forest while Shelley had an evening workshop to conduct. Turns out there was more than enough staff for the program and she got to come home early, a nice surprise for everyone.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Rei's artwork has progressed beyond flowers and faces. Here's a sampling of her latest work:
gallery oct 07
No, we don't have a scanner, so the picture of the pictures will have to do.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oui oui monsieur

During some of Kai's chatter at daycare, his teachers thought they heard some French. They replied with "Oui, oui, monsieur" which he thought was hilarious. Ever the mimic, he's since been offering his own rendition of "ouiouimonsieur" or maybe it's "wee wee mess your".

Monday, October 01, 2007


I'm not sure where the little girl who doesn't like getting her photo taken has gone to ...
strike a pose
but we could have used this diva for our Septemberween pictures.