May 24 Weekend

We call it the May 24 weekend, but it actually is Victoria Day and, our country being friendly to the long weekend, is actually celebrated on the Monday closest to the actual day. This year, it was this past weekend. The weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer holiday season. Lots of folks traditionally plant their gardens and flower beds on this weekend.

This year , we went camping. We did the same thing three years ago and almost froze . It was so cold that we said we would never camp on this weekend again. A bunch of our friends were planning to camp, but J refused to book a site until the state of the weather was clear. The weather did look good, so, J went to the park and got one of the last non- reservable sites on Thursday afternoon. We went to the park for Thursday night and it was so cold that we wondered if maybe we had made a mistake after all.

In the end it was a great weekend. Temperatures got up into the low 30’s and people were actually on the beach and in the lake. We read a lot, enjoyed some conversation and laughter around campfires, and generally relaxed. The summer has truly started and, for us, that means a lot of travelling. Thursday, we leave for our latest bike adventure. You can follow some of the trip here on this site or get the more complete travel log at (its more complete because J writes there as well)

We’ll return from that trip and head to San Francisco (by plane) for a wedding and then to Edmonton, shortly after, to meet a new grandchild.

The life of Riley (whoever he is)



Over the holiday between semesters I read some books, just for me. In the last couple of weeks of school, I had really begun to crave fiction. Theology books and research material were just not filling the need. As soon as I finished the last paper, I headed to the library. Here’s what I read.

Reinventing the Rose, Kenneth J. Harvey

An interesting, artsy kind of book. It wraps the idea of an embryo being the common shared property of two people with legal ownership by both with a woman’s struggle with some sort of mental illness. It is interesting that the main character is a woman while the book is written by a man. It is set in Newfoundland. There was more than one time that I found the book disturbing enough that I wanted to put it down.

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen

The best of this lot of books, this is another Canadian (living in the US) authour. This one, written by a woman is told by an old man and describes love and adventure in the 1930’s as part of the circus. Its a story a life that from the outside appears exotic but from the inside is brutal and sad. The sections told in the present show the loneliness and loss of old age.

Glass Boys, Nicole Lundrigan

Another Canadian author and another book set in Newfoundland. This is a dark book, following the lives of two families and their effect on each other. We see the choices they make and the concessions they accept in their own lives to just maintain their existence. It’s a good read.

Sanctus, Simon Toyne

This one, I wouldn’t read again or recommend. while the first three have a ring of authenticity to them, this one is fantasy pretending to be reality. It reads a little like the Da Vinci Code with all of its fantastic and unrealistic twists and turns. Like Brown’s book it also tries to use the mystery of the biblical story to build an alternative and secret reality.

Now, its back to theology books…..

Thanksgiving Weekend

Enjoying the freedom of the dog beach

Enjoying the freedom of the dog beach

I know it is Thursday already, and to post about the weekend past when the weekend future is actually closer seems just a little wrong. The week has been like that so far, with no news of relief for a few more days anyway. After a relaxing weekend I was flung into a week with too much to do and too little time to do it. So, I got up at 5:30 just so that I could reminisce about a weekend past.

It was an unusually wonderful weekend. J and I, along with  her brother and family, camped together at the Pinery Provincial Park.  Thanksgiving can be a cold and dreary holiday. Not so this year with temperatures pushing into the high 20’s. We enjoyed the beach with our dogs, we biked, we read books that were not textbooks (and did some Hebrew), we had a wonderful meal together, we remembered that we have much to be thankful for.

The sun drops below the horizon Thanksgiving Sunday

On Sunday, I went to church in Grand Bend, initially as a requirement for a class assignment. It turned out to be a cool worship experience with a very friendly group of strangers. The church was small, with about 35 in attendance, but, the worship was genuine even though it was different from what I am used to. Friendly though. As soon as I came through the door, I was surrounded by folks wanting to know who I was and welcoming me to their service. Part way through, I noticed that one of those women, now sitting in front of me, had my name and some of the details I had shared written at the top of her bulletin so she could still address me by name at the end.

My stolen time is gone……

So…its onward to Christmas.

Fall Forest Harvest

We have about 40 acres of bush on the property where we live. Over the past six years that we have been here, we have cut a road/walking trail through this area. It’s about two kilometers long and provides a welcome quiet break at the end of the day.  Liia, our Bernese Mountain dog always leads the way which prevents us from seeing any wildlife. We hear the turkeys, grouse, and deer moving out of our way, but rarely get a glimpse.

While spring, with its carpet of wild flowers is very beautiful, I think my favorite season is fall.  All around, and through the bush are wild apple trees.  I don’t know why there are so many. It may be because the area was pastured many years ago and then just allowed to grow up wild. The entire south side of the bush is apple trees, one after the other.  No tree is the same as the next. Some of the apples are as small as marbles while others are as big as any that you would buy in the store. All are wormy. Some are bright red, others green, and some russet. Some seem to pick a day and all fall off the tree. Others don’t seem to have the sense to fall and rot on the tree. I’ve tried a lot of them (you can find some that are not too wormy or scabby). It’s like wine tasting…no two are the same.

The other cool thing that happens in the bush right now, is the appearance of puffballs. It’s no wonder that in less scientific times people thought that mushrooms were somehow a magical thing. The puffball seems to grow from nothing to the size of a soccer ball over very few days. they grow in different places every year. They all seem to grow at about the same time with no real indication of what causes them to “germinate” and grow. Right now there are about eight of the skull like things in various parts of the bush. We’ve eaten one this year. They are great anywhere that you would use mushrooms.

The other nice thing about the bush in fall is that the mosquitoes, horse flies, deer flies, and black flies are gone!

Home from LBL Cottage

We are home again from a wonderful week of doing almost nothing. Nothing is not really true. Those of you who know us, know that doing absolutely nothing is just not part of the program. We did do things. We canoed, we hiked, we read (a lot) things that were not necessary to read, we ate (a lot and well), we drank (most of us in moderation), we played games together, some of us knitted, cross stitching and chip carving happened. We went to bed early and slept late. We were together as a family for the first time in over a year and we are still a family at the end.

LBL Cottage was both an inspiration and a disappointment. Inspiring in that  living in a log house has always been a sort of dream for J and I.  This log house (called a cottage) was something over 3000 square feet and gave that feel of solidness that comes with a big log building. A huge fireplace dominates the great room and was used on a couple of cool nights. The place maintains its cottage feel throughout with painted plywood on the floors and a very simple kitchen. The cottage was built over 20 years ago and the trees have filled in all around it.  It sits alone on the private lake making it a very quiet place.

Our lake for the week

Unless the generator is running! The cottage is off the grid.  A generator provides electricity to run the water pump and really nothing else.  We continually watched the water pressure gauge which was mounted in the kitchen.  The mathematicians of the family started to calculate the  pressure costs of each household function. A flush of the toilet was eight pounds, filling the kitchen sink was 10. Each running of the pump would yield four flushes or three fills. When we took showers the generator ran constantly. We got used to pumping water, not a big disappointment.

The view from the bathroom window

The disappointment came with the propane side of the equation. All of the other things in the cottage that we normally run with electricity, were propane. Propane lights were fitted throughout the house, a total of nine fixture for the entire 3000+ square feet. These fixtures produced about as much light as a 40 watt light bulb.  With all the lights on, we still needed flashlights to read at night. The propane fridge was actually more disappointing. Quite a lot of food which we bought in a volume big enough to last a week since the stores were far away, spoiled before we could use it because the fridge was just not big enough or powerful enough to keep up.

The disappointments, while adding a bit of a damper, were not big enough to spoil our week.  Maybe they made it. If the place had been perfect, it would either have been booked or far too expensive for us to afford. It sure beat living in a tent!!!

Next week, back to school.

Happiness and the Journey

All the good that you will do will not come from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. . . . The real hope then is not in something we think we can do but in God who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see.

—Thomas Merton

I borrowed this quote from a devotional article in the Banner (online) by Peter Schuurman.  The article describes Peter’s life as a student, father and husband and finding happiness in all of the busyness of life, busyness that often does not seem to have anything in particular to do with what we think the journey is.

We have been busy these past days. After returning from the aborted walk on the Bruce trail I have been busy with various tasks every day. Today we cut, split and stacked nearly five cords of firewood. (How Canadian can you get?!  Thinking about winter’s cold, in August, with sweat soaking through your shirt!)  Last week a day was spent organizing and sweeping out the shed, another on the barn. I also read a 700 page novel. At the end of each day, I was happy with my accomplishments, but, were they on task or was I just dawdling beside the road?  I have pretty much let Hebrew slide for the past two weeks. Books have arrived that could be read in preparation for next semester. A curriculum needs to be developed for the “ministry” that I will be leading over the next months.

Schuurman argues that there needs to be happiness in life in the midst of the busyness. Being on task all the time is not necessarily  the happy way.  In fact, it may be the wrong way all together since being “on task” gives the impression that I know what the task is or should be.

Thus the Merton quote. God knows what the end is better than I do. Being on task, with my nose to the grindstone gives the impression that, somehow, I can pull myself up to the goal by my own bootstraps. The fact is, I likely don’t even know what the real goal is.

1 Peter 3:15 (II)

Yesterday was a busy day, in fact the whole weekend was a little over the top.

Saturday was the wedding of the daughter of one of our good friends and our daughter’s best friend (not two people).  We had a great time at the wedding and with the extra guests that stayed at our house,  by the time we got to bed it was 2:00 am.

I led the service Sunday morning in Lucknow.  If you are interested in watching the service the video is here.  The service went well, I was whipped by the end. It’s a good whipped, but I don’t get the same feeling doing even longer talks about sheep feed.  We rushed home and fed our guests burgers.

By one o’clock I was back on the road to Waterloo for a music workshop and concert/worship service with the seminary choir Inshallah and a guest choir Hilariter from Toronto.  Again, a good time.  Inshallah is a choir of about 60 voices.  The tenor section is quite small so, being a baritone, I push a bit and hit the high notes.  Only 4 tenors showed up for the event so it was likely a good thing I was there, but, by the time I got home that night I was totally done.

That 1 Peter passage says I need to be ready to tell people why I do the things I do when they ask.  I might be too tired to answer right now.