Saturday, December 10, 2011

December - and the Busyness Begins

     It took 3 nights to Verathane the baseboards but it helped that they dried so quickly so I ended up putting all 3 coats onto a set of 3 or 4 boards each night. Then Dan came over last Saturday to begin cutting and attaching them to the walls. It took a fair bit of work just to clear the rooms out and cover stuff with plastic. I usually put furniture and things in the dining room but we needed access to those walls as well. Dan is quite amazing in his ability to work with wood. He did a fantastic job and the finished baseboards look wonderful. We worked for 13 hours on Saturday but that still wasn't enough time so he had to come back Sunday afternoon for a few more hours. I was basically just the helper/lifter/holder/getter of stuff, but Dan's real easy to work with. Beth and I couldn't be more pleased. There's still some work to do - staining & verathaning some cut ends that show, painting the front hallway as these baseboards don't come up as high as the originals.
     Sunday morning was our annual pilgrimage back to St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, the church I (and Beth too) basically grew up in. We attend on the first Sunday in December in remembrance of my sister Kelly who died 33 years ago at the age of 16. This was of course the biggest tragedy to affect our family. I was driving Kelly and I to a rollerskating event at Bingeman Park called "Jesus-skate" which was run by a good friend of ours. At that time (1978) the entrance crossed a railway track which didn't have a signal and we were struck (on the passenger, ie. Kelly's side) by a train. Kelly suffered brian injuries that led to her passing that night. I spent a few days in the hospital but my injuries were pretty minor really. Obviously this changed our lives in many significant ways. One of the major shifts was in our Christmas celebrations. Needless to say our Christmas in 1978 was very different - we certainly didn't feel we wanted to have all the traditional gift-giving and stuff so it ended up being very focussed on Christ and the deep meaning of the incarnation. I can remember saying (after the Christmas Eve service at the church in Hanover) that while it was definitely the hardest Christmas ever it also was the most meaningful. So ever since that time I really tried to avoid things that I think detract from celebrating Christ's coming (like gift exchanges). It's been an adventure over the years, especially when the kids came along (for most of their growing up years we laid on their gifts at birthdays, and gave presents to Jesus on his birthday), and my conviction has changed somewhat over time, but I'm glad to have tried to act counterculturally in this area.
     Sunday night Beth and I went over to Emmanuel Bible College to hear Sean & Aimee Dayton. He's a musician from North Bay that Jay Calder recommended to me a number of years ago now, and he has just released a new Christmas cd. The concert wasn't very well attended but the music was great. Helped us to get into the Christmas spirit - except we didn't really appreciate his encouragement to look to movies for holiday inspiration - c'mon!
     On Monday, December 4th we headed down to Hugh's Room in Toronto for the book launch of "Kicking at the Darkness" by Brian Walsh. He's been a Bruce Cockburn fan and a university professor for many years and has finally put a lot of his thoughts about Bruce and Christian art into a book that looks great. There were fantastic versions of many of Bruce's songs throughout the night by 3 groups: The Wine Before Breakfast band (from U of T), Glen Soderholm (and band, including the phenomenal jazz pianist Mike Janzen), and Steve Bell (accompanied by Mike). Plus Brian read from the book. It was a really wonderful night for someone who has appreciated Bruce's music for decades now.
      Tuesday Beth and I headed to York Nursery to pick up a (pre-cut) Christmas tree. We took the Cavalier from Alison and had no problem fitting the tree into the back (with the seat down of course).
     Thursday our small group went over to the Operation Christmas Child warehouse in Cambridge to help sort the donated boxes for shipment around the world. It's a great thing to be part of - we worked for 2 hours straight,  in a group of 5 and I was in charge of taping each box closed before sending it down the assembly line to be placed in larger containers.
     On Friday we scrambled to get everything cleaned and in place to host our Friday night small group. It was nice to have the living room filled and I lead some singing for the first time with this group.
     I got back to the gym a couple of times but then got busy again with the wood and other stuff so it's been over a week since I was there. Not feeling real great about that. I began listening to some Christmas music  - some of my favourites are Sixpence None the Richer's "The Dawn of Grace", Don Ross's "Wintertide", Bob Bennett's "Christmastide", and Kevin Ramessar's instrumental guitar cd. I've been reading Jonathan Foer's "Everything is Illuminated" which is creative and interesting but too vulgar at times.

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