Saturday, August 27, 2011


     Last weekend we had friends over to play our new favourite card game (Wizard) and then on Saturday I went to the Waterloo Air Show with dad. It was a nice day and the highlight was getting to hear David do the announcing for the demonstration by the T33 Mako Shark that he has been involved with through volunteering at the Jet Aircraft Museum. He did a great job!
     Monday night we had a canoeing meeting for the guys who are going on our Labour Day interior camping trip into the Frost Centre region (east of Huntsville). This will include a bunch of friends and David, Josh and Joel are all able to be there. We're looking forward to a great time - hopefully the weather is a lot better than last year, which was very cold and rainy.
     Wednesday afternoon I went golfing with the Vanwyck boys and Josh at Beaverdale golf course. In preparation for that I finally broke down and bought a set of golf clubs, which I've been thinking about for a few years now. It will be good to have a decent set around for the boys to borrow too, whenever they need them (as long as I'm not using them, that is). However, I began to doubt the wisdom of investing in the clubs after losing about 8 or 9 balls while playing on Wednesday. Kind of frustrating, although I was actually able to par one hole!
     A fair bit of time this week (at least a few hours each evening anyway) was spent helping out at Westheight's Kid's Camp program. I worked as a small group leader (with 4 children) and Beth was in charge of the snack time. We were both very impressed with the high quality of all aspects of this event. Many people invested a lot of time and energy in reaching out to our community - there were about 80 volunteers and 120 children had registered. We were reminded again that there are many great people at our church and I was glad to get to know, and become friends with, my assistant leader Jared.
     Our nephew Ashton came out to the kid's camp for most of the week and ended up staying at our place a couple of nights. It was neat to have a 7 year old in the house - he has a great sense of humour and can entertain himself very well. Ashton came over to help me at the school for a bit (I got over there a few times this week) but didn't last very long at the job I gave him. He and I had fun swimming together on Thursday at Harry Class pool, where Alison works.
     This week I downloaded (from Chapters) and read Mark Steyn's new book "After America". He has an interesting take on how our social/political world works and is a very creative writer. However his vision of the future sure is pretty bleak. I also read through Brennan Manning's "The Ragamuffin Gospel" which I thought might be on my list of 20 books I should read every year but now I've decided it just doesn't rate (repeating 'live by grace' over and over just doesn't cut it, even though it's great advice).
     Music listening: Lost Dogs - Old Angel (awesome!), Kerosene Halo, Kerry Livgren - Collector's Sedition, Prime Mover (bears relistening with lyric sheet); Bill Mallonee (one of the most prolific songwriters) - WPA Renderings, Cabin Songs, Dear Life, Dear Outtakes EP, Fetal Position, The Who - Tommy (Movie) Soundtrack
     Went to see Conan 3D, desperate for some entertainment/escape I guess, because I don't really like going to 3D movies. Beth and I went to see The Help with Ali on Thursday - now that's a great movie! I used Josh's Netflix account to watch the original Planet of the Apes and District B13.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Up with People!

     We've had a very full week, spending time with lots of folks up North. I ended up being able to visit all of my cousins from my mom's side of the family, except for Martha who lives in Texas (and who we saw in March). Beth had another week of holidays that ended up being extended because of her switch over to shift work (13 days off altogether!). Before we left though we did spend a couple of days cleaning and organizing around the house, focussing on the shed in the backyard and the fruit cellar storage area downstairs.
     On Wednesday we headed up to North Bay to my Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Don's where they arranged and hosted a great supper with my cousins Grant (and his wife Cathy) and Mary (and her husband Peter). Later in the evening a number of us (including Grant and Cathy's children Graham and Courtnery [and her husband Cody]) went over to the Northgate Mall to help Uncle Gordie Love take down his sauna display - that was a 3 hour job!
     Thursday we drove up (with Don & Marilyn) to the Cobalt area for a visit with my cousin Pam and her family at the house they've recently had built on a lake outside of town. We love this area of Ontario, especially as I spent many summers up here as a teenager at the Love cottage on Fairy Lake (15 minutes outside of New Liskeard). Pam & Dave have a beautiful new home (all wood inside) and we enjoyed chatting with them (interesting discussions about world finances). On the trip up I was surprised to see that the old Hiway Book Shop had closed - this was a place we often stopped at on our trips north. On the way home we stopped in Temagami for awesome ice cream cones. In the evening we played a couple of games of Aggravation - that's a game we played lots of in Hanover growing up, and Beth and I played many games of it with my grandparents when we'd visit them back in the '80's.
     Friday we went exercising at the Y with Don & Marilyn, enjoyed a pizza lunch and then drove back down to Huntsville to hang out with our friends Steve and Rachel at the Harp Lake cottage. Steve cooked chicken over the fire and we played some rousing games of Wizard and Dutch Blitz in the evening.
     On Saturday we headed over to the nearby cottage of my cousin Pattisu (and David) for a visit with them, which included a couple of saunas and swims (well, the guys did that, not Beth). Then we picked up Swiss Chalet for a quick supper with Aunt Shirley and Uncle Gordie before driving to the MBC camp for a concert by Michael Card. I've been listening to his music for decades now and have seen him perform a number of times. He's really a bible scholar who uses music to teach in a very creative, deep manner. Michael has a wonderful stage presence but he plays a right-handed guitar left-handed (meaning the guitar is upside down!) making it nearly impossible to emulate his playing (though I have learned a few of his songs [right side up!] over the years).
     Sunday we went to church with Gordie and Shirley and then had lunch at the Wendy's in Huntsville before travelling 30 minutes up the road to Camp Kahquah, near Magnetawan. We'd been encouraged to check out this church camp run by our denomination (BIC = Brethren in Christ) by some folks in our Friday night small group who have come up to the family camp time for many years. And we're glad we took their advice because we had a wonderful time! We decided to keep it simple by staying in a room in the lodge for 3 nights and getting the meal plan provided by the camp kitchen. It was a great opportunity to get to spend more time getting to know families from our church (there were actually 4 Westheights families there, but we spent more time with the Cobers and Wiens from our small group). We even got invited out for supper a couple of times! We contributed fresh baked pies from the nearby Cornball General Store. One day Karl rented the pontoon boat which we took to a small island for a swim and into Magnetawan for ice cream cones. Another day Kevin took us around the lake in his powerful fishing boat and Beth even went water skiing behind it! I enjoyed leading some songs around the campfire each night, we had quite a few fun games of Wizard, and we got to connect with a number of other campers, especially at meal times. Kitchener MP Harold Albrecht is a regular camper at Kahquah and he baptized his niece in the lake one morning. We introduced ourselves to him, as Mom & Dad are big supporters of his work and we had a really nice conversation with him (he's lost his wife suddenly this year so we ended up sharing about excellent books on grief). We also got to know and appreciate the worship leader, Andrew Thompson and his family who were from the Welland area. I recorded a couple of the sessions on my computer so I can learn a few of the excellent songs he introduced. He also showed me how he uses his iPad as a song stand, which is pretty cool. A young lifeguard at the camp played an electric cello during the music and it was an awesome addition (probably my favourite instrument).
     I finally finished the huge science fiction book Anathem, which took me almost 2 weeks to complete. The sad part is that it really wasn't that enjoyable! Way too much philosophical discussion and invented vocabulary to try to keep track of, and the story actually moved so slowly that it didn't get really interesting until about page 750.
     Lots of travelling music as we drove around this week: Jars of Clay, Lamb III, Mark Heard - Eye of the Storm, Victims of the Age, Dry Bones Dance, Second Hand; Michael Card - Present Reality, Hymns; Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown, Undercover - God Rules, Boys and Girls; Supertramp - Crime of the Century, Moulin Rouge soundtrack.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


     Last Monday was Josh's 23rd birthday but Beth had to work a 12 hour day shift. She's back doing bedside nursing after 2.5 years of being resource nurse at the desk - it's a shared position now so she'll rotate with another nurse every 3 months. But it also means she's back to shift work - 2 twelve hour days, then 2 twelve hour nights, then 4 days off. So for Josh's birthday I arranged a golf day at Rockway - Dad, myself, Josh and his friend Adam made it a foursome. We went out for brunch first at Cora's then headed to the course for our 12:08 tee-off. The young guys opted for an electric cart. We all had fun but everyone except Dad shot pretty inconsistently, though we improved over the 18 holes. It was pretty sweltering hot on the front nine but seemed more temperate as the afternoon wore on. Five (!) hours later we headed home for a quick freshening up and then Josh and I met Mom & Dad at Swiss Chalet for supper. Later I went to the club for my regular workout but it was super challenging as my body was exhausted!
     It ended up being a pretty unproductive week - couldn't seem to find the motivation to get much accomplished. I did get into the school one day but not much done around the house. The continuing oppressive heat also is a factor I think. Did do lots of walking and exercising though (but the scale is being somewhat stubborn about moving down). Feeling a bit guilty that I somehow managed to fit in 4 movies this week - Crazy Stupid Love (lots of great twists in this, and fine acting), Cowboys and Aliens (kinda dragged at times - too many scenes of just riding horses through the wilderness), Bridesmaids (wasn't as offended as I thought I might be), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (interesting story, neat how it sets up the other, much older, series).
     On Wednesday Beth and I went to have our wills updated as things have changed since we did them originally 18 years ago. It seemed expensive but we're glad to have that taken care of.
     I read through an older book (actually 3 books in one) by P.G. Wodehouse. He wrote these classic British stories about a rich guy named Wooster and his brilliant butler Jeeves who helps him solve problems that arise in his aristocratic life. They're pretty funny but I don't think I'll read the whole series.
     Saturday was a Hugill (Beth's maiden name) family gathering in Grand Bend. Everyone was able to make it (except for her nephew Scott and family who live in Calgary, and our son Joel who had to work), including her niece Kim and family who were visiting from Edmonton. It's great to reconnect with folks we sometimes don't get to see very often. Sharon provided a nice lunch and some of us headed to the beach in the afternoon. We had lots of fun watching the kids (ages ranging from 3 to 25) interact and play [in the attached photo our great-niece Jenna is crying because Josh tipped her off of the air mattress]. We treated the kids to Denny's (a popular local hamburger joint) at supper and then Beth & I walked downtown Grand Bend, picking up a sweater and shirt (for Beth) along the way.
     On Sunday we celebrated Josh's birthday with family and friends (only 6 days late, which often happens with birthdays in our family [especially those around long weekends - which includes everyone's birthday except Joel's] as we try to coordinate schedules with everyone). In the evening Beth and I went over to Mom & Dad's to try to help him with computer issues and to play a game of Hand & Foot.
     Another week with lots of music (listening while walking or driving): Klaatu, Noel Paul Stookey - Something New and Fresh, The Statler Brothers (I loved listening to these guys when I was about 13 years old) - Oh Happy Day, Old Testament, Greatest Hits; John Mehler - Bow & Arrow, Fireworks - Sightseeing at Night, Burlap to Cashmere, Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken - TN EP, Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What, Glenn Kaiser - Cardboard Box, Various Artists - Making God Smile (Brian Wilson Tribute), Surfonic Water Revival (these last 2 are our favourite beach music CDs - they're great tunes!), Josh Garrels - Love and War and the Sea In Between, Kerry Livgren/A.D. - Time Line

Monday, August 1, 2011

Staycation #1?

     Beth and I went to see "Horrible Bosses" last Sunday, which was definitely hilarious in many parts but also obscenely vulgar in others - why do film-makers seems so willing to lower the bar? I keep saying that I'm really not a prude, but flicks like this do make me feel that maybe I am, as I find some of it pretty offensive.
     Beth was off this week and she helped "inspire" me to get a few more jobs done: repairing & repainting Josie's gate in the kitchen. fixing a doorknob, cleaning up & organizing my workroom (bought a cool label maker for nail/screw/etc. drawers & shelves), and washing the kitchen floor.
     On Tuesday we travelled to Oakville for Beth's appointment with the surgeon who will fix up the veins in her leg in September. In talking to him she discovered that he trained/worked with the doctor who did my heart surgery back in 2005 (Dr. Ashe - he's still at St. Mary's, we thought he was wonderful, and I think he's considered one of the top heart surgeons in Canada). We met Josh for lunch at Turtle Jack's as he works nearby. We were really hungry so ordered some garlic bread as an appetizer, but because things weren't explained clearly we ended up with 12 pieces!
     Wednesday afternoon we visited our friends Daryl and Sue at a cottage they were staying at near St. Josephs, on Lake Huron. This is very close to Beth's home town of Zurich, so we stopped at the cemetery there and also at the bakery where Beth's mom used to work. Multiculturalism seems to have finally hit this village as the bakery has been taken over by a Chinese lady - but they still bake traditional Bismarck donuts. After a rousing game of Up and Down the River with our friends (which Beth won, she would like to note) we headed over to Grand Bend for a nice visit with some of Beth's family (her sister Sharon, and Ted - who live in Grand Bend, and her brother Gary, and Cathy - who are nearby in Exeter)
     On Friday we served a meal again at Ray of Hope in downtown Kitchener. We barbecued sausages and served these on a bun, along with a variety of salads and cake. It turned out very well, though we were told to prepare for 190 people but only about 95 showed up, so there was lots of food left (which they simply use in the next day or 2). I had a good conversation with a young man who comes to the Centre pretty regularly - he seems to be managing quite well on his disability cheque by wisely using many of the support services that are available in the city.
     On Saturday we were thrilled to get an invitation to friends from our Friday night study group, Suzanne and Frank, to come for dinner and games at their place. We had a great meal and a wonderful time - the ladies won in Sequence and then we played a very entertaining game of Wizard (where you just weren't sure what would happen in a round).
     Remember that 20 pounds I said I lost earlier this year (20 Pounds)? Well I found it again! And I've even kept up my regular exercise routine at the club 3 times a week. So in the last couple of weeks I've gotten a bit more serious about watching what I eat, especially cutting down on the snacks. The scale is starting to slowly move back down again - I've added in trying to take a walk on days I don't go to the club and a short ab workout DVD I stole from Alison.
     I read a very interesting book this week called "The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction" by Alan Jacobs. I had read his excellent biography of C.S. Lewis ("The Narnian") a few years ago and heard him speak at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing in 2008. His lecture at the festival was wonderful - it made me think it may have been something like hearing Lewis speak to one of his classes many years ago. Anyway, Jacobs' new book got me doing some thinking about the reading I do. I average about 50 books a year but sometimes I think I might read too fast or can't recall enough of the book after I'm finished. Jacobs got me to consider doing more rereading of good books I own - there are probably a number of great/important books that I should reread on a regular basis and I'm going to try to  compile a list and add them into my annual reading regimen.
     Lots of listening this week as I worked, walked or drove: Sweet Comfort Band - Hearts on Fire & Perfect Timing, Be Bop Deluxe - Modern Music, Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away & Historical Conquests, Petra - Washes Whiter Than, Phil Keaggy - Emerging (I'd forgotten what great rock guitar he plays on this) & Play Thru Me, Imperials - Very Best of, Prodigal - Electric Eye & Just Like Real Life, Allies, Bruce Cockburn - Life Short Call Now, Janny - He Made Me Worthy & Think on These Things (her stuff sounds pretty dated)