Tuesday, April 28, 2009


it's almost 2 a.m.
and the world is finally still.

the cat's stretching and yawning in the leather chair.
she's comfortable.

the temperature is perfect.
the breeze is coming through the open window.
all i can see is pitch black sky and lit up skyscrapers.
two of my favorite things.

it's almost 2 a.m.
and my mind is finally still.

(and now, to bed.)

new york public space: taking the pedestrian point of view

a short article that caught my eye in the Toronto Star today.

highlights: the speed at which this is possible, the small/irregular space being reused, the possibilities in other cities for similar projects, the necessity of good leadership, the power of strategically placed leadership with sufficient power to do what they need to do, the difference of experiencing cities from cars and from the street, the parking along the left side of the triangle that was incorporated.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

grey hair is a crown of splendor

"Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts one generation can pass to another is the wisdom it has gained from experience, the Wisdom project, produced with cooperation from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, seeks to create a record of a multicultural group of people who have all made their mark on the world. Presented against the same white space, all of the subjects are removed from their context which not only democratizes them, but also allows for a clear dialogue to exist between them. In an attempt to create a more profound, honest, and truly revealing portrait of these luminaries, the project encompasses their voices, their physical presence, and the written word. This comprehensive portrayal of such a profound and global group is an index of extraordinary perspectives. Wisdom is an ongoing project. Additions to the list of contributors continues."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homer Simpson said it:

Tonight a group of youth from Crossfire went to a concert downtown.

While we were there, I met someone who found out I was a youth pastor. They then asked one question right away: what me and my husband studied in school.

That's always a tough one. The way the question was phrased I wanted to be clear in my answer to her.

First, that we have degrees in different fields, and do different jobs. We don't pretend one of us is a pastor because the other one is. Fair enough, right? Being a pastor is my job - that's where my energy and education is. Jarod does engineering and physics stuff I'll never even dream of understanding.. That's where his energy and education is.

And since they asked what I studied, I also wanted to include what job I did outside the church as well, because that avoids a lot of weird questions later or presumptions also.

So my response was simply "I studied theology and I do heart testing as well, and my husband's done autobody and now is studying civil engineering."

That first part is my standard reply much of the time. First, because many people ask while I'm testing their hearts what fields I've studied in, and I tell them. Most of them are intrigued and ask more questions, so then I explain the two things I do now. And then if they wonder why I do both things, I tell them that I do one to enable the other.

And if it's people who don't know me, or that I encounter outside the hospital, I say "heart testing" since that's understandable. Very few people have an idea what an electrocardiogram or an echo or stress test is, and I'm enough of a know-it-all the rest of the time anyhow.

(Then again, if the other person thinks they're a genius and I'm feeling snarky, or they truly are someone who will get this, I'll joke about studying perichoresis (a theology term) AND pericardiocentesis (a heart term )).

So "heart testing" is pretty simple, right? It works. People understand hearts exist. People understand the biological necessity of them working correctly. People understand that hearts are regularly tested, because they're rather important, right?

Apparently... not so much.

Apparently, that clarified one thing, and made things much, much worse.

Apparently, the impression that gave to her was that I studied theology and heart testing... and the two went together: so my "heart testing" was claiming to have a prophetic gift whereby which I judged the thoughts and attitudes of their heart.


Ummm... not so much. I can completely see how they got that impression, but wow... not a chance.

Not knowing this, I'm enormously, incredibly, unbelievably glad the next words out of my mouth were "I'm working at a hospital in Toronto right now" as I was about to explain I was still in school for the heart testing portion.

And this HUGE look of relief passed over their face, and they proceeded to explain how you just never know what type of people you'll run into, especially among downtown churches.

So we started a short discussion about the educational options available at McMaster in political science and fields of that ilk. We may even get together later to talk more about education and options.

Perhaps "I do heart tests for the hospital" will be my new simplified, first-time-meetin'-ya-folks answer. D'oh.

When all else fails...
"Dig up, stupid!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

upon getting a cup of coffee a few minutes ago

my brother remarks "this cup is bumpy... it's like drinking Braille"

Starbucks was giving away free coffee today for Earth Day to anyone who brought a travel mug.
Yonge and King on the way to work... check.
Queen and Yonge at lunch... check.
In the Eaton Centre on the way to a meeting after work... checkity check check.

(Not a single one on my way home in Hamilton though... too bad, huh?)

In the words of David Letterman: "Way too much coffee. But if it wasn't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever."


After work today I met with Cyril, the lead pastor of our old church in Toronto - they're changing locations, they've had leadership shifts, and overall there's a lot of really exciting stuff happening. Very awesome.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

today was very interesting

today, i studied in this very cool non-profit coffee shop in Toronto for several hours.

and then, i had a couple hours left while Jarod's tattoo session was finished, and my brain was completely toast, so I visited my old church.

and i'm very glad i did.

of all the churches i've been to, Freedomize worship is my favorite. There's nowhere else I've found a combination that resonates quite so much with my spirit (and my tastes, let's be honest). The setting is uncrowded, friendly, deep, warm, rich. I felt close in worship today, both at Crossfire this morning, and at Freedomize tonight, and that's a rarity for me.

i'm most excited to hear some news though: among news of many people having babies and exciting new developments in their lives, I also found out, though I'm not clear on all the details yet:

- the church just signed all the papers and are moving to a new location downtown which they (at least partially?) own - on College near Bathurst. (sounds a bit familiar, eh?)

- they're renovating it with quality materials: it needs a lot of upgrading (still sounds pretty familiar to me...)

- they're having some work days next month to help get it ready (the familiarity continues...)

- the church that owned it before still meets there, apparently

- the artists in the congregation are doing a bunch of artistic-type stuff for the new building.

- one of their two new pastoral interns lives in downtown Hamilton. I met him and his wife tonight and we're going to connect this week sometime

- another couple from the church (that Jarod knows better than me) like Hamilton a LOT

- Since I'm in Toronto weekdays, I'm going to connect with Cyril (their current lead pastor) for coffee sometime this week and find out more.

it's amazing how much can change when you're away from somewhere for a while, and it's always great to go back and see what God is doing somewhere else.

I wasn't at all expecting/thinking of going there tonight, but I was really glad I got the chance to.

I'm hoping Jarod and I can put something towards their new building when we get the chance and maybe make it down next month to help. I'm pretty excited about it and I hope to have more details after this week about what's happening there.

God is great.

I've been playing a lot of Dustin Kensrue lately. I think I need to write a blog post later about just one of his songs, maybe more of them.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

an unexpected view.

I'm almost halfway done my month in Toronto (testing people's hearts for all kinds of things), and I'm enjoying it a lot.

I work with good people at a great hospital.
I've been doing a lot of work on my own, which is great. (the upside to working at an understaffed place, I suppose).
Doing the actual testing is very easy - in doing the intepretations I'm finding out where I know it well and where I don't.

I've also got the chance to observe a lot of new things: working in various ICUs and post-ops as well as with outpatients, and there's many more things I'll be starting next week.

So far, so good.

And getting there has been fantastic.

I like the GO train a lot, and I was hoping it would prove consistent and workable.

And it's been great - fast, smooth, reliable and comfortable. It's well-surpassed my expectations.

And there's a bonus.

Every morning, I get to see the sun rise over the bay. The tracks curve around the bay and at the side of the train the ravine drops off, giving an unobstructed perspective on the bay and the water. Towers and factories rise in the distance, and the sun comes up blazing. It's been a while since I've seen the sun so strongly, no buildings or vehicles or anything in the foreground.

There was one day last week where it looked like the clouds were parchment, torn back by a mighty hand just to let the sun through. There was another where the sun hid behind an island, refusing to show itself but illuminating the water brilliantly. When I come back in the evening, I don't see much of the setting sun behind the other buildings, but the water's lit up like diamonds.

Perhaps before the end of the month I'll bring a camera. I'm no photographer, but some of these would be great to capture.

- There's more than one spot you'll find a single chair by a tree, overlooking the tracks.
- Waterfowl flying around the bay and red-winged blackbirds in the trees just outside the train.
- In Burlington, there's always people walking their dog along the manmade hills that serve as sound barriers between the tracks and the suburbs.
- There's a lot of great angles and lights along Hunter in the early morning walking to the station.
- And in Toronto, it's looking much more European in parts as scooter, motorcycle, bike and moped parking takes significant space now at Union and some of the side streets along Yonge. There's one street in particular where there's always a dozen or so lined up. We're not Firenze or Portland yet, but here's hoping ;) Though I still am thrilled that Hamilton's scaled much better than Toronto for that kind of thing and have seen several here as well.

On a somewhat-related note, the Nano (aka the $2000 car) has been in the news for a while now, and I think it's one of the scariest bits of news we've ever seen. 100,000 people have been selected by lottery to get the first shipment of Nanos, the rest will have to wait for theirs.

100,000 Nanos to start, and they're talking about selling 250,000 every year.

Jarod and I had this conversation a few minutes ago:

Me: "What happens when you get a nation of a billion people, most of whom don't drive, into cars?" (Yes, I know it's actually around 1.2 billion and only some can afford this car)
Jarod's: "You say goodbye to Mother Earth."

The reason the Western world can sustain this lifestyle is because it's the Western world - we're small in population, we have enormous amounts of land to sprawl on and forests to mitigate our emissions. But more than that, we make other countries who live nothing like us make a lot of our products and we ship out a lot of our waste out again. In short, we don't see the consequences and most of the world doesn't live like us.

And I'm not setting myself up as great here. I consume/produce just as much as most people.

Sure, I take the train now and I hope to get an electric car when/if we need one again, and we've located strategically for transportation and hope to buy strategically later for transportation. But that's a tiny part of my very-typical North American lifestyle, no matter how much I think I do ;)

But when you get a nation of that size moving into cities (about a third of the population now), gaining skilled jobs and becoming a rising consumer class who wants to live like the Western world, they certainly cannot be faulted for wanting convenience, status, speed. (Though given current gridlock problems I doubt speed will matter much). They're marketing this both to singles who want status and families who want to have cars. And cars are just the beginning. But over the long-term, I don't think we're going to like where this puts us environmentally.

It's paradigm-shiftin' time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

another picture from our living room and a rather beautiful video

Yesterday's sunset was wonderful.

I took a picture that captures next-to-none of it, but still manages to showcases how nice our living room and our view is. I think I tell Jarod about once a week that it's one of my favorite things about living here.


a rather beautiful video i saw a few minutes ago, if for aesthetics alone. philosophical discussion could ensue as well, i'm sure:

Steel Life from Mathieu GĂ©rard on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's at the times when you think no one else can possibly feel this way

...that you have to remember... everyone else feels this way sometimes.

i'm not full up this week, friends.
i'm beat.
i'm tired.
i'm sick of it all and I don't want to do it anymore. i want to take off to Cali, forget about all my responsibilities, avoid money and people and hard work for a while.

my body is rebelling against me, my mind is racing, my stomach is turning.
and that's not me. i'm an ox with a cast-iron stomach and a backbone of steel, not a stressed-out weakling susceptible to the latest malady (ya sure can tell i love them purty feminine metaphors, eh?)

last week i wrote exams about everything that can go wrong with your heart.

i preached on sunday.

i started a month of work in Toronto on Monday testing people's hearts.

i slept thirteen hours last night

i have today and tomorrow "off": today was the seminar about helping those who self-harm. (you know, a little lighthearted banter to finish up my time) and tomorrow I prepare for Thursday night... man. at least Friday's coming.

right now, i'm spending my life on what i have to do to get by, and giving the leftovers to what i love to do. and that's the part i hate.

and i'm pretty lonely, i've got to say.
i miss a heckuva lot these days. but all of what i miss is gone forever.
there's no use trying to go back, and things were never as good as one remembers.
but i do miss people that i could trust and friends who understood.
there's no one i can call for a cup of coffee right now that isn't in a meeting or a hundred kilometres away, and that's pretty frustrating.

and if that's the worst thing in my life, i know i'm still doing pretty good.

yeah, i know I'm whining.
there are far worse things in life. i'm (generally) healthy, happily married, emotionally and financially stable, and there's nothing chasing me from my past.
many people would kill to be where i am.
and i'm sure most know i still wouldn't trade being in this city and with these people for a million dollars.

half of the time, I feel that I shoulder a lot. the other half of the time, i feel like i complain far too much.

overall, i still have a pretty amazing life. i'm in an amazing place, and there's nothing i'm doing now that won't pay its dividends.

and the hard times, too, will eventually pass. a brief blink of an eye in the long span of my years, and less than a millisecond when you get around to eternity. (much more than nice words, eh?)

next week i'll have ten extra hours in total from taking the train to work on things... next week there will be a lot more done... and next week both my body and my mind will have recovered somewhat. besides, this weekend is Easter, and if that's not hope, what is?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Some pople like music at the "middle" of the spectrum

You know... the EZ Rock type? They can turn on the radio, listen to it at work whether they're waking up over coffee, halfway through a stressful meeting, handling a delicate issue or laughing ove a joke.

Me, I like music that modifies my moods.. so it needs to be at either end of the spectrum. The middle just irritates and confuses me :) (U2's always the exception. They just do the center of the spectrum so well).

For example... right now i'm completely drained, stressed, done. I've had little sleep (but tons of food!) and I need rest badly.

So into that goes one of two things.
On one side.... As I Lay Dying or something of that ilk to pound every last shred of stress out of my brain with long complicated riffs and pounding drums....
On the other... some more Neverending White Lights Dallas Green or just some plain old chants... to sand down those jagged edges with soft notes.

I'll figure it out in about 10 seconds :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

i don't like exceeding my threshold of stress

up to a point, stress is good: it's what keeps us motivated and moving. it's what keeps our physical bodies alive. without stress, we wouldn't be doing much at all, and up to a point, more stress means we do more.

we've all got that point, though, at which there's too much of it, and it becomes a really bad thing. i think i've hit that point today. and i don't like it.

it makes me a more negative person, which is something i battle constantly in the first place.

next week i'll start a month of a very different schedule, but it should result in less stress. i'm looking forward to it.

this afternoon i did lay on the couch for about an hour and listen to Neverending White Lights, and that helped. now it's off again to fill my mind with more, mull it over... and then for the rest of the week, pour out the right bits at the right time ;)

Jarod made spectacular hamburgers.

one half-pound each of beef perfectly mixed with a bunch of good stuff, on onion bagels with everything you'd ever want on top: to quote Jack Black in Nacho Libre, I think that's what we call "a taste of the glory... don't you want to taste the glory? you know... see what it tastes like?"