Monday, July 25, 2011

Music and Life

     Something my friend Dan said a few years ago has continued to trouble me - he's a fellow music fan and says that because of his age and the amount of music he owns he won't be able to live long enough to listen to it all (and no he's not sick and dying, it's just that he has so much music). It really got me thinking (if that idea could actually be true for me as well). And that's one reason that I've been tracking my listening on this blog, so that I can get a better sense of how much and what I listen to. This week I decided to take it to another level - I created a list of the core of my music collection (not including much instrumental or worship music) and printed this list out in booklet form. It wasn't too difficult - copied folder names from my iTunes backup - but it still took a couple of hours. There ended up being just over 1000 albums I think (the booklet is 7 pages of fine print with 2 columns per page). Then I went back over my 2011 blog entries and wrote in the month and year beside each album I listened to. I've already checked off 137 for this year so far. So I figure at that rate it may take up to 5 years to complete the booklet. But it's nice to have a goal and it feels good to be able to check off each step along the way. And yes I'm sure there will need to be additions as I continue to purchase new music (I did leave a bit of space, but I'm really trying to just enjoy all the music I have instead of buying much more). I also continue to try to eliminate albums from my iTunes program by burning them onto CDs and adding them to my collection kept mainly in binders.
     We went to see Tree of Life this week and had some great (and extended - it's a film you can talk about for a long time) discussions about it. Also read a couple of helpful articles online that gave further insights. I found it to be quite moving, bringing back images from my own childhood/life as I watched. It's a beautiful, deep and meaningful movie, a piece of art actually, that I think is probably Terence Mallick's masterpiece. I feel I should really try to see it again.
     It was scorching hot this week but I was able to get a few minor jobs done around the house. The wheel for our clothesline became so imbedded in the back maple tree (the tree had grown right around it) that the wheel no longer could turn, so I had to chisel part of the tree away from it. One of the flagstone walls in the backyard has been in need of repair for a few years now so I finally got that fixed. And I cleaned up the barbecue, replacing the bricks and scrubbing the various parts (I'm thankful for SOS pads).
     I often retreated into the air conditioned kitchen/family room area and read a couple of captivating books over the course of the week. I whipped through Josh Ritter's "Bright's Passage" pretty quickly. He's a songwriter I'm appreciating lately and this is his first novel. It was very interesting and creative, including an angel who communicates with the main character through a horse (yes it sound pretty weird but it works). Stephen King's massive "Under the Dome" is a wild story but it's also very bleak and disturbing (and the vulgarity is not appreciated). I doubt that I'll read any more of his work.
     We had some invitations for several nice visits this week as well. We went to Mom and Dad's for supper on Wednesday and it ended up that none of the kids could make it so it was just the 4 of us, which was just fine but seemed a bit weird (feels like about 25 years since we've done that!). We played a game of Hand & Foot and the ladies were very proud of their win. On Friday we were at our friends' Carla & Dave and enjoyed a nice meal along with great conversation. Saturday we picked up Olu & Tracy and headed up to Walkerton to visit with our friend Krista and her family. It was wonderful to be able to connect with everyone there and especially to see how beautifully the children are growing up.
     I'm really appreciating our church, feeling like we know lots more people there and enjoying connecting briefly with folks on Sunday morning - it's beginning to feel more like our church as of late. We ended up helping lead some children's songs for their program at the last minute and it was lots of fun to do that again.
     Music listening: Yes - Relayer (awesome 70's prog rock), Beatles - Abbey Road (classic), Bob Bennett - First Things First (also classic in my opinion), U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind, Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away, Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What (really appreciate this now that I've read along with the lyrics, plus the musicianship is fantastic), Burlap to Cashmere - new self-titled release (a bit disappointed on first listen, but it's growing on me as I give it more time/attention), Bon Iver - For Emma Forever Ago

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Cottage

     So we spent last week in one of Beth's favourite spots in the world: Harp Lake, about 15 minutes west of Huntsville. We've rented the Wiseman cottage there a number of times over the last 6 years and always enjoy the peace and beauty of the area. The cottage isn't huge but it has all the amenities and is very well-maintained. We had the first few days to ourselves and then our friends Bruce and Carol joined us for a couple. David and Rachel went interior camping/canoeing in Algonquin Park and then came to the cottage on Tuesday. Alison also arrived that day, and brought along our dog Josie, who loves the water (however she isn't allowed inside the cottage because of the owner's severe allergies - she stays out on the front deck and sleeps in the car). Josh was able to come up Thursday evening, but unfortunately Joel couldn't get time off of work.
     Beth enjoys sitting out on the dock reading and catching some sun - sometimes she even goes in the water;) Actually we swam across the bay (for the first time I think) and back one day. We also walked around the lake once (about an hour and 20 minute trip, with some major hills) and took a couple of canoe rides. We were able to visit and host meals with my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Gordie (who live in Huntsville) and Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Don (who drove down from North Bay). We always enjoy spending time with them all. We played lots of games - the new favourite is a card game called Wizard (well it's a favourite of everyone's except Beth I think). Josh, Rachel and I completed a 1000 piece puzzle.
     A couple of mornings we were awoken by the sound of a small bird banging repeatedly against the bedroom window. I think it saw its reflection in the glass and was making territorial attacks. Eventually I taped some newspaper over several of the windows and it stopped. We had to feed the fish bread and the blue jays peanuts each day as well. We had a bit of a war with a chipmunk who decided it liked the sunflower plant on the deck. We used water and chili powder to scare him away, and even though he got soaked (and scolded Bruce from a tree quite vociferously) he eventually got all of the flowers off of it.
     I also read 4 books, listened to about 20 albums, and we rewatched all 24 episodes of the first season of Modern Family - I guess you could say I had a good, relaxing week!
     Music: Larry Norman: In Another Land, Something New Under the Son; Paul Clark: Hand to the Plow, Aim For the Heart, Change in the Wind; Sting: Soul Cages; Parable: More Than Words; Michael Card: The Final Word, Scandalon, Known By the Scars, The Beginning, The Way of Wisdom, The Word; Petra: More Power to Ya'; John Michael Talbot: The Lord's Supper; Josh Garrells: Love & War & the Sea In Between; Phil Keaggy/Jeff Johnson: Frio Suite; Jason Gray: Everything Sad is Coming Untrue; Chuck Girard: Glow in the Dark
     Books: A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren (very thought-provoking, world-view changing even, need to reread and discuss further), Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (nice old illustrated copy at the cottage), Church in the Inventive Age by Doug Pagitt (picked up after his talk at the Wild Goose Festival, lots of great ideas, need to pass it on to my pastor), Mr. Popper's Penguins (classic children's book with new movie release, book given to me as a gift by a student at the end of the year).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Holidays - Week 1

     First week off of school but I ended up working in there for 3 of the days getting things cleaned up and reorganized. My soundtrack for that was 70's (mostly prog rock) music: Queen I and III (Sheer Heart Attack), Yes - The Yes Album & Going For the One, Elton John - Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Sparks - Kimono My House & Indiscreet, Genesis - Trick of the Tail, Jethro Tull - Songs from the Wood.
      I walked back and forth to Fredrick St. Mall to watch 'Transformers 3' - in the end more for the exercise than the movie. Upped my weight at the gym too, so feeling a bit sore.
     I ended up at the doctor's again this week as I found quite a few spots/bite marks(?) on my legs and torso. We started washing sheets and clothes and checking for bugs but the doc said it was folliculitis (an inflammation/infection of hair follicles. We've both been putting on fucidin creme and it seems to be helping, although Beth got it too and hers seems to be spreading more, so she got an antibiotic to take.
     We went to Mom and Dad's for supper on Wednesday for Beth's birthday and amazingly the whole family could make it - it seems so rare these days when we can all sit down at a table together. Beth got more money towards a new bicycle, which she really needs to go buy. I guess I better take mine in for a tuneup. In other news, Beth taught me how to make lasagna this week.
      The neatest thing on the internet this week was responses to U2's show in Nashville - Bono invited a blind guitar player out of the audience at the end of the concert and sang along with him (then gave him his guitar!). Good review and comments on why so many of us find their music and concerts special/moving at The Rabbit Room.
      I began the book 'Violence Unveiled' but had to quit after 60 pages. It was recommended by Steve Bell as a very important book but I just found it to be too obscure/deep for me. Some of the sentences still made my head hurt after reading them 3 times. I've reclaimed my iPad from Beth and plan to read a number of books on it, starting with Brian McLaren's 'A New Kind of Christianity'.
     I have a friend going through a tough time the last couple of weeks and he requested I sing Randy Stonehill's 'Turning 30' to him (though he's turning 40, so I changed some of the words). I pulled it together pretty quickly (the internet is sure a great resource) and Beth came with me to his house to sing it to him today. It turned out pretty well I think.
      Other music listening this week: Jill Phillips - Nobody's Got It All Together, Josh Garrells - Love and War and the Sea In Between, Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ticked off?

     One of the surprises resulting from our North Carolina camping trip last weekend was finding 4 deer ticks imbedded in my upper thigh on Monday night. I know that sometimes these ticks carry Lyme disease, which is pretty terrible - a coworker of Beth's has been off of work for over 4 years with complications from it. After doing some reading online, especially noting that 7% of cases can be asymptomatic, I decided to call our doctor. He agreed that it's best to play it safe with this kind of thing, so he started me on an antibiotic for 10 days. I don't think we'll end up going back to that campground/festival.
     We went to see Sara Groves in concert on Tuesday in Stratford. I've appreciated and followed her music for almost 10 years now - remember seeing her open for Michael Card shortly after 9/11. Her songwriting is insightful, powerful and beautiful. I was pleasantly surprised to see she was travelling with a full band and her family.
     The last week of school often seems kind of surreal - it's so busy finishing things up in the classroom and life outside of that has seemed especially full - especially the pressure to do something nice for Beth's birthday, which ended up being the last full day of school. Our Thursday night small group was doing a potluck finale that night so I said I'd "take her out" for dinner, wrote a personal card, and pledged that this summer would be my time to learn/relearn how to cook/prepare meals (this is part of my 'retiring before Beth' strategy [that's 3 years from now] - ie. how I can be a support at home when she continues working).
      We ended the last school day by going outside and singing under the shade of a big maple tree (my students sure love that song 'Pharaoh, Pharaoh'!) but I didn't bother to take a chair along out. I sat on the ground and now the last few days have been suffering with some pretty nasty, itchy bites (about 20!).
      Finished reading Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" on the school bus trip back and forth to Niagara Falls this week. It's a great book - although pretty dark it does resolve nicely and the dad ends up as quite an heroic figure - and we had a good day at the Falls. Also read Erik Larson's "Thunderstruck" this week. He does a great job weaving history (in this case Marconi's discovery and development of the wireless telegraph in the early 1900's) and horrific crime together.
      We got a really neat email this week from the first child that we had sponsored through Compassion International. He was from the Dominican Republic and is now 31 years old(!), living in Florida I think. He wanted to contact us to say thank you. It turns out he's a singer/preacher/producer and has released some CDs (I just purchased his latest music through iTunes!). Looks like it's in Spanish.
      This past Canada Day weekend has been a chance to visit with folks. We had some families from our Friday night group over for a barbecue on Friday and then went to see the fireworks up at the University. Saturday morning we had breakfast with our friends Olu and Tracey who we only get to see every year or so it seems. Saturday night was a get-together with long-standing friends. Lots of good conversations and laughter.
      A lot less music listening this week: Kerosene Halo - new Mike Roe/Derri Daugherty collaboration (nothing about it blew me away though), The Violet Burning - Chosen and Strength, Pierce Pettis - That Kind of Love