Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Long Weekend

     We had a really nice, relaxing Easter weekend. I had decided a week or so ago that it would be a good idea to watch through the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy (in honour of Peter Jackson beginning the filming of The Hobbit). Five of us gathered to watch #1 The Fellowship of the Ring on Friday. It ended up only being Josh and I watching #2 The Two Towers on Saturday. Then I ended up watching #3 The Return of the King on my own on Monday night. That last one stretched on for about 4 hours in total - so it's very long but it is a great story and Jackson did a wonderful job capturing so many of the themes and characters. It kind of inspires me to reread the books but I have so many others on my list already.
      Spent some time on Saturday trying to fix some leaking faucets around the house. This kind of stuff never seems to go smoothly for me. I do like going to One Stop Plumbing with my pieces because they are very knowledgeable and helpful. I was (foolishly) feeling pretty good about things when I came back from the store and installed the new washers and stems. However when I turned the main water back on the tap in the kids' bathroom wouldn't work at all and the laundry room sink still was leaking. So I ended up calling on my friend Steve (who is very used to [and gracious about] my requests for help). He was stumped about the dysfunctional tap upstairs but quickly discovered it was only a plugged aerator. He recommended I change the seeds in the laundry taps and then helped to dismantle the kitchen faucet (which he had installed a few years ago). Everything worked in the end and 4 taps are working properly, but it took longer than originally anticipated (you'd think I'd learn).
       Beth and I had an overnight getaway Sunday to Monday but we didn't go far - just downtown Kitchener, but it was nice to walk around and we visited the Tom Thomson exhibit at The Museum. We hope to get a poster of one of his paintings for our living room (the reds he used would fit nicely we think). We also did some reminiscing as we're preparing to share our faith/life story with our Friday small group this week. It was wonderful to reflect on the many years of grace we've enjoyed together as we looked through pictures and made some notes for sharing.
      Last week we went to see the movie 'Win, Win' at the Princess Cinemas and we both really liked it. It won some Sundance Film award and was very well acted. I've continued with my Bruce Springsteen music study, giving more attention to 'Devils & Dust', 'Magic', and 'Born to Run', along with an initial casual listen to 'The Rising'. I've been working on consolidating my computer backups and this has inspired me to burn some of my digital copies of music - I could free up 40 Gb on my hard drive - so I've also been printing out album covers for inclusion in my music binders.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Surf and Turf

Beth and I went to see the movie "Soul Surfer" last week (1/2 price Tuesdays) and I was very impressed. I had heard a little of this girl's story a while ago - a surfer who had her arm bitten off by a shark when she was 13 years old. They did a wonderful job portraying this story - great surfing photography (and of course Hawaii is beautiful), solid acting (especially from the main character - amazing!), and flawless CGI to show her without an arm for most of the movie. And of course the story itself is so unique and powerful (and true!). The important faith aspects of her life are handled tastefully and naturally. I found myself really captured by this movie and was moved to tears several times.
Tried rolling our back lawn on the weekend. Some say you shouldn't do this but our ground is very rough - the lawn mower ends up jumping all over the place - so thought I'd give it a try. The rental place said not to put water in the roller but I did anyway because it just wasn't heavy enough. Even with that extra weight it didn't smooth everything down, though it did help some. I was hoping to do it again on Sunday or Monday but it got too cold again. Maybe I should just buy one so it's available whenever I need it.
Saturday night we saw Bruce Cockburn's concert at the Centre in the Square. He always puts on a great musical show. This one was with his drummer and a newer violinist. His new album is growing on me and it helps to hear the tunes live. It never ceases to amaze me the number of songs that he has memorized out of his huge catalog. Was thrilled when he played 'All the Diamonds' during the encore - a favourite, beautiful song that I can't help but sing along with (sorry for the dangling preposition).
Our whole family ended up going to Bhima's Warung for supper on Sunday. This is the (high end, emphasis on the 'high') Indonesian restaurant where Joel is apprenticing, and he's been bugging us to go back (we were there for my birthday last year). We sure need Joel's guidance when ordering as most of the terms are foreign (pun intended) to us. But we had a great meal and a nice time around the table. I nearly fell off my chair when Josh said he'd pick up the (large) bill!
Relistened to Billy Sprague's "Wind and Wave" this week. One guitar guy on the internet calls this the best album ever and while I wouldn't go that far I do think it's very good. Great lyrics ("people need wisdom but get an education") and the music is very reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper. Further listens also to Sarah Masen's "Dream Life of Angels" and Cockburn's "Small Source of Comfort".
Decided I need to become more familiar with Bruce Springsteen's music. I've come to his stuff late (found out that his first albums came out when I was still in university) and have listened in the past few years to later releases like The Pete Seeger Sessions, Magic, and Working on a Dream. Have given a pretty good listen to Devils and Dust, reading along with the lyrics a couple of times. Got a 30th anniversary boxed set of his breakthrough Born to Run release from the library so will work through that one next week (Should I be embarrassed that I never listened to this when it first came out? Had no interest back then.) I'm finding his music to be very enjoyable and easy to listen to - more so than Paul Simon's stuff - I wonder why that is?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

It sure feels great to be able to do my walking with less layers and no heavy boots. It was always a pain having to carry my shoes to the club (you wouldn't believe the number of times I'd have to turn around because I forgot them at home). Now Beth is more interested in walking again, with the warmer weather here.
Joel got back safely from his trip to the Tropical Princess in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic (I'm including all of the relevant information here so I can refer back to it in the future to perhaps book my own vacation there). It sounds like a wonderful place, though of course our chef apprentice felt the food wasn't that great.
We were able to have everyone together at Mom and Dad's for supper on Wednesday, so we celebrated Dad's 76th birthday and their anniversary as well. It's a rare thing to have all 9 of us in one spot so that was nice.
Went to see the science fiction movie "Source Code" this week. Haven't seen loads of movies so far this year. This one was entertaining enough, an interesting diversion, which is what I was looking for. Couldn't think about it too much or a lot wouldn't make sense (especially the happy ending).
My weight has crept back up a little as I've been snacking more, so I've recommitted to eating better starting this week. Been able to keep up the exercise regime though and have recently added more weight to each of the machines I use at the fitness club.
Really enjoyed the Brooks Williams concert on Friday. He's a great guitar player and deserves a wider following. Hadn't realized he'd moved to Cambridge, England and married a Brit. The most fun song of the night was one he had composed of all the famous guitar riffs that everybody wants to learn (without learning the whole song). Hilarious! And it worked/flowed well. Hope it appears on the internet somewhere.
Other music I listened to this week included the new Paul Simon, 'So Beautiful or So What'. I'd like to say I'm a big fan but just can't seem to get that into his stuff - it's all right but doesn't blow me away or anything. Listened more closely to Michael Gungor's music ('Ancient Skies', 'Beautiful Things') and that does impress me. Also getting into Sara Masen's 'Dream Life of Angels'. Just picked up Springsteen's 'Devils and Dust' from the library, trying to listen to artists others think are important - this one's okay but the song about a prostitute is too graphic for my tastes.
Been thinking this week about learning/memorizing songs that would make for good singalongs at select social gatherings or campfires - y'know, Beatles tunes or other classic/familiar hits. 'Hey Jude' or 'If I Had a Million Dollars' come to mind as good examples. Need to consider this further.
It was nice getting together with Beth's siblings on Saturday. We had them to our place for lunch, which means a bit of driving for them (from Chatham, Grand Bend & Exeter). Lots of laughs and shared memories. Everybody but Beth and I have retired so we get tips from them and it helps us dream - in fact, we've all planned to go on a cruise in November of 2014 (the year I'm due to retire - I told Beth that now I have to, so we can participate in the cruise!)

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Last weekend I spent 10 hours finishing the staining and Verathaning of a shoe shelf and some wood trim for around our windows. I worked over at mom and dad's but the pressure was on because they came home on Tuesday. It also gave me an extra opportunity to listen to lots of music. This week I made it through my entire discography of Brooks Williams (15 albums), along with relistens to my 2 Josh Ritter albums and the new Cockburn. Also delved into Sarah Masen, who I hope to see in June at the Wild Goose Festival.
But the most amazing listen this week was to the latest David Wilcox release, 'Reverie'. This guy is just one of the best songwriters I know. Plus, he's got a great voice and plays the guitar in a very unique way (lots of alternate tunings and a variety of cut-out capos). His songs though - wow! He has such a wonderful, creative way with words. This new album is just him and his guitar, and listening to it has reminded me again what a master he is - I know why some musicians have called him the 'songwriting Jedi'. The song 'Stones of Jerusalem' is an amazing history of the Middle East in 3 minutes, 'Piece of Me" & 'Little Fish' are insightful songs about what's wrong with so much of Christianity today. 'Ireland' is a wonderful poem/tribute to the love for music in that land and 'Dynamite in the Distance' is an understated but achingly beautiful song about love and communication.
Josie had surgery last Friday and has had to wear a cone/collar to keep her from rubbing her eyes or biting at her leg stitches. She ended up cracking it pretty good in a few places as she's maneuvered around, especially when coming up the stairs (so now we take it off when she has to ascend the back steps). Also need to apply ointment to her leg, and drops in her eyes, a couple of times each day. She's been great with this, although she didn't like the ointment the first few times as her leg must've been pretty tender.
I finished reading 'The Count of Monte Cristo' on Thursday so it ended up taking just over 2 weeks to read these 1063 pages. I really appreciated the iPad's ability to give me quick definitions of unfamiliar words (and there were lots of them - written in the 1800's, translated from French). This is a grand tale of revenge and forgiveness but it is also a very complicated story. At one point the author reintroduces a character and when I checked, the last time he was mentioned had been 675 pages before! After this tome I decided to take a break and read some lighter science fiction, but the unique book I've started, Eifelheim, actually has a lot of challenging vocabulary as well. I say it's 'unique' because it's set in a German medieval village of the 1300's, but an alien spaceship lands in the woods nearby. Very strange, but intelligently written, and the main character is the faithful village priest - I'm liking it.