Friday, November 30, 2007

The Sandman Passes

With the cold weather and consequent curtailing of outdoor play, Kai's DQ (Dirt Quotient) has been low. At the Early Years Centre's sand table this morning, Kai made up for his low dirt intake by drinking sand through a straw. We found some of it in his diaper tonight.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Test Drive

This morning, I took the car in for service (oil change and new headlight bulbs) and drove one of the dealership's courtesy cars, a big boat of a Crown Victoria to work. I had also asked they check the front end and the tie rods, as per the advice of my father-in-law.

Upon my return, I learned the car wasn't ready yet; in process of replacing the broken tie rods and realigning the tires, a bolt broke off and needed to be ordered. Having noted a newer courtesy car in the parking lot, I asked if I could take a smaller car overnight instead. After signing the necessary insurance waiver, I was given the keys to a 2008 Focus. (Such a waiver wasn't needed for the older, buoyant Crown Vic).

A lot of changes have been made to the design of the Focus since we bought ours in its first year of production. I quite enjoyed the satellite radio on the short drive home. I didn't mind running errands tonight in town, banking and groceries, as I perused could listen to CBC Radio 3 (Sirius channel 94) in real time while on the road.


It seemed to be the day for people trying to sell me things at work today. Even before I got out of the car, there was a representative for ChurchWares shaking my hand and seeking to fulfill all our candle and vestment needs.

After filing the accumulated church-related junk mail, I fielded a phone call from a photo directory company. Apparently, saying "we have your contact information; if we decide to proceed, we'll contact you" wasn't enough and so a follow-up call is to be expected in March.

The phone rang again near the end of office hours. Not expecting phone solicitors, I was too long to hang up the phone after the momentary silence of the computerized auto-dialer for MNBA. I had to interrupt someone's spiel about some kind of financial services offered to us so that I could hang up.

One of my clergy colleagues from across the street happened to be there and commented that it's no wonder people are so suspicious when we show up at their door or call on the phone. Because, really, all we're doing is selling them back their soul.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


In an attempt to put a big dent in our Christmas-supply shopping, and dine at Olive Garden, Shelley and I took the day off together and spent it in Michigan. We dropped the kids off at daycare and crossed the border.

There was some preliminary investigation at Toys R Us and a wander through the mall, before some pseudo-Italian refuelling at Olive Garden. We filled our cart at Target and again at Toys R Us. It wasn't so much the strength of the Canadian dollar (although it was nice to view prices at par) as the different selection in clothes, shoes, toys, soap and other sundry items.

Back over the border without delay, we picked up the kids and returned home as if it was just another day. Meaning, of course, a church meeting in the evening.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In the Dark

I don't know if I should read too much into this, but after tonight's Presbytery meeting, I discovered both headlights burnt out. As I left the streetlamp-lit roads of London, I thought to myself, Wow, it's really dark out tonight!

So I was the one driving with my high beams on the entire time, ignoring the helpful flickers of on-coming motorists informing me that my lights were too bright. Sometimes I clicked off to demonstrate my dilemma, assuring them I chose to be a blinding jerk than an idiot in the dark. It's not often I get to be the one who makes that choice.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Yes, the pager has pretty much been the focus of my attention. Apparently, it senses this and also detects when I might have moved onto something else. It has been chirping intermittently through the day. My guess is that the battery is low; no one has called from the hospital asking why I'm not there.

The kids, on the other hand, are fascinated by this turn of events. Like we don't have enough noise-making gadgets around here ...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Called On

Of course, with the week I'd been having, the hospital chaplain pager goes off.

I won't say much beyond the fact that it was an intense situation. Nothing dramatically tragic in the way of newpaper headlines, but still heartbreaking. I spent about as much time with some of the hospital staff afterwards as with the family.

Yet despite the emotional toll that I pay in such instances, it also felt fulfilling to be making a real connection with others in a time of need, to have made a difference.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Haiku Birthday

On this day commemorating Urs's birth, we also mark the beginning of this blog's 4th year. Can it be that long? They grow up so fast!

As per tradition, a haiku for Ursula:
With visa in hand,
Urs and Ger prepare to go.
The Canucks are glad.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

White Club

There's been a lot of news lately about Queen's University and its culture of whiteness. While I'm not ashamed of my alma mater, I'm not the most vocal proponent of the school often telling people "it's a good school, but not as good as it thinks it is..."

I have to say I'm pretty adept at noticing this sort of thing, but I have to say I didn't notice much in the way of white power. Perhaps I was over awed by diversity of gender or sexual orientation. Admittedly, I was inundated with multiculturalism by virtue of 4 years living on the International Floor of the residences.

Although further reflecting on my years at Queen's (an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree, a Master's, and various Senate committees), there is a pronounced dearth of pigment in the derma of faculty and administration. My Japanese language course and Introduction to Islam were the only ones not taught by some variety of white-skinned professor.

It's OK though; some of my best friends are white.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


When Shelley picked up Kai from daycare, his teacher said, "I hope you weren't going out anywhere tonight ..."
Kai do
With a hairdo like this, he's ready for the mean streets of Strathvegas.


After a hiatus of a few years, I'm back on the rotation at the local hospital as a chaplain on-call. Here's hoping I won't notice the few extra ounces clipped to my belt this week.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Glory Hound

I was with Kai at the Early Years drop-in at Glencoe Presbyterian this morning where he was happily constructing a tower of blocks. When it was finished, it wasn't enough that I praised his efforts. He needed everyone's attention.

Kai turned to the room and called out in a loud voice, "Look at me! Look at this! Hi! Hi! Look at me! A tall tower! Hi!" and so on, until one of the Early Years staff from across the room acknowledged his achievement. It's cute now, but I can see the makings of a class clown.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Morning Sickness

Maybe it was too much partying the evening before, but Rei was feeling sick to her stomach on the way to church.

Since the morning, she's been feeling better. With winter clothing coming out of the closet, she's re-fitted her superhero persona with warmer boots and a new snowpants-cape.
Winter Hero Wear

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas 2007, Part 1

As mentioned previously, and as has been the custom for the past few years, we've hosted Christmas for Shelley's immediate family before her folks head south for the winter.

With the turkey roasting, we put snow tires on the car, raked some more leaves, before the carb-tryptophan-gravy glut rendered us sleepy.

Unless you were one of the grandkids, delighting in the frenetic afterglow of chocolates and presents. I think Kai is enjoying first remote control car.
Remote Kai

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ahead of the Game

It's Friday night and the sermon is done. With Shelley's folks arriving for a last visit before their winter migration, there were extra hands on deck for the bedtime routine.

So after supper, I went to the library with the laptop and worked there until it closed. I moved to Tim Horton's for a half-hour and tada! The final draft was done and worship was ready (except for the pastoral prayers, but I prefer to work those up closer to show time).

I can enjoy tomorrow's Christmas festivities without the dread of the Sunday deadline.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More Blogging

If I haven't been blogging enough, I've gone and set up a new site for the churches. An anagrammed "Pen a Long Epic" will continue in the same vein as "On an Ark with Ravens". Such is ministry in the new millennium.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Could have been worse

The dark pallor of church closure hanging over my head today seems to have manifested itself into a series minor setbacks that Seinfeld would eny.

Despite a productive morning of getting Reiko to the bus on time, getting a haircut and looking into a Christmas gift project, all before getting to church office hours, things took a turn for the tragically comic.

My preparation and planning for the day forgot to bring the laptop power cord. It was left at home so there was not a lot of computer work to be done. I had to resort to using an actual concordance, physically flipping through the hymnbooks, and writing liturgy in longhand.

I planned on leaving a little earlier to go to London but discovered I had managed to lock the keys in the car. My cellphone battery died. Luckily, I brought the charger.

Then I discovered our roadside assistance plan had lapsed. Luckily, I could renew it and get service at the same time.

After a short wait, I was back in the car and ready to go. The lens popped out of my sunglasses. After a short search, I managed to reassemble them and I was on my way.

The traffic detours didn't slow me down too much and I managed to get everything done that I wanted. I even managed to be home early for Reiko's return off the bus.

It seemed that all my follies were work-related. Tonight's church meeting only had a couple other people show up. Still, we discussed what we needed to and I didn't hit the possum on the road.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The End of an Era

Shelley came home from work with the news that Arkona United Church is closing. Its final worship service will be the last Sunday of January 2008.

In some ways, it's not a shock. Like many rural churches there were too many jobs for too few people who were overworked. Looking back, there was an almost-palliative feel to my last months with them, but I was attributing that to my own sense of loss and closure.

I applaud the courage and foresight it took for the church to take its own fate into its hands and make a decision, rather than having things decided for it.

Dear friends of this blog who are connected to Arkona United: I wish you well. My prayers are for courage, hope, strength and the promise of resurrection. Thank you for seven wonderful years of a career launching and more importantly, of friendship, family connection, music, laughter and meat pies.

While the news is no great surprise, it's still sad for me to think of the void in the community. Who's going to feed everyone?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Four Generations

After a full morning of church services, including a detour necessitated by the Remembrance Day service that closed Main Street right before worship, it was family time. Shelley's grandmother had yet to see us in our new place, so her parents were bringing her over for a visit (meaning my Sunday afternoon zone-out of TV/napping was out; although, some NFL football was watched – Lawrence Welk, not so much).

While the slow-cooked rump roast tenderly awaited its fate, we tidied and made things as presentable as a household with two active children can be. It was nice to have everyone over and welcome four generations of the bloodline in the house; chances are unlikely my side of the family will be able to accomplish a similar feat.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Leaf Fest 2007

Fall is my favourite season for many reasons, but leaf play with the kids is what I love best. With the space of the local ethnic community centre behind our yard, we raked up a large pile for play.

At first they were content to simply sit back and revel in the experience.
leaf pile 2007

Then they decided to mix things up abit.
leaf toss 2007

Basement Bowling Alley

Our palatial home allows for an indoor bowling lane. Ballerinas welcome.
bowling ballerina

Not to be outdone, Kai got into the action as well.
bowling boy

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Spice Must Flow

When novelist Frank Herbert died, the epic Dune sci-fi series was stalled midstream, unresolved. Recently, his son and collaborative partner wrote a series of prequels to the Dune books. More recently, they wrote the finale to the series based on storyline notes discovered in a safe-deposit box.

The copy I reserved from the library arrived this week and Salman Rushdie had been put on hold. So for the past couple days, Shelley's been a Dune-widow as I uncovered the secret to the ultimate Kwisatz Haderach, the fate of Rakis, and the evolution of the sandworms. But apparently this isn't the end of it as there's another book forthcoming somehow.

Shelley will be so thrilled.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fiddle Faddle

One of the churches was hosting a Old Time Country Fiddle concert tonight. I was asked to help introduce Scott Woods and his band, and be introduced in the process. After the obligatory, "yes, I'm old enough to be a minister" joke, Shelley and I settled in to an evening of favourite family-oriented music.

It was a fine, folky fiddle fest, the jokes were corny and church-related, and 600 people attended the event. There was a couple from Arkona there, as well as someone from Lambton Presbytery. I guess the circle of fiddle aficionados is pretty well-connected around here.

All in all, it was a pleasant evening and the first date that Shelley and I have had in a while. Maybe next time Scott Woods will break out some "Devil in the Kitchen", MacIsaac-style.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Extra Hour

This year's version of gaining an hour of sleep went better than last year's time shift. The kids had a restful night of sleep. As for me, I spent much of the night fine tuning the details of the worship service (like what I was preaching ... you know, minor stuff) in my head.

I figured on leaving early for the church to finish the sermon writing and baptism preparation an a computer that wasn't so gigabytally cramped, and thanks to the extra hour, it didn't seem so bad heading to the church if it was really 7:45 a.m., old time.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Garage Space

We're winterizing the homestead. I covered the A/C unit, put away the garden hose and the outdoor garden lights.

The garage has been cleaned out and we fit both cars in our parking facility. Imagine that! Cars in the garage. You know we lead wild and crazy lives when this is the highlight of day.

Friday, November 02, 2007


The laptop is running out of memory. I've been getting messages to clear space, erasing podcasts and other secondary files. In an effort to archive some iTunes, I've been trying to convert some podcasts to mp3's but lacking sufficient memory to do so. I'm having trouble saving my sermon; it could be a long night.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


The post-Hallowe'en sugar rush has left its mark.
ring popped
Ring Pops were very popular this year.