How Dad brought Muskoka home

I had a good talk with mom this morning. I was able to test out some of the theories that I have about how the Dettweilers came about having a cottage in Muskoka. I was 5 years old when the transaction to buy the cottage took place. first boat with 33 HP Johnson & Detweiler familyI remember some things very clearly – I cut my finger on a blade of glass during the visit with the real estate agent – we went on a tour of the lake conducted by a teenage Ken Dorsch – and I could tell you where I was in the backyard in Breslau when Dad brought home the boat from Maryhill marina; that’s when I knew for sure that we had a cottage.  Mom provided some details this morning that allow me to flesh my theories out into a fairly well substantiated story.

It goes like this:

We know from the honeymoon pictures that Mom & Dad went up the highway Muskoka way as there are pictures of them in a tiny rental cabin, at a motel (between Orillia and Gravenhurst) and in a boat on a small lake. The tiny rental cabin and the boat was likely the destination as Mom says it was near Parry Sound and that they stayed there several days and the motel, would have been a stop en route to that. I think there may even be pictures of the honeymooners at High Falls (on the Muskoka River right at the intersection of highway 11 and 117). Dad liked to stop there with his family. If he was like me it would have been drilled into our heads, “your mother and I stopped here on our honeymoon”. But dad’s not like me that way and I had to figure that out on my own.

The other connection that dad had with Canadian Shield geography is in 1943 when dad spent about 6 months at the Montreal River camp, north of Lake Superior, as the lesser part of his alternative service assignment of 43 months that lasted until the extreme end of WWII. The greater part of his service was in Breslau working at Cecil Mader’s dairy which continued until all the army service were home, the war well over in 1946. Dad didn’t get to go to camp during his childhood and teenage years,MontrealRiverAutographbook but his young adult experience at 20 years old was like a lifetime of summer camp rolled into one experience (except that it was much chillier than Mishewah ever was on the coldest August morning as his service there began in November). The autograph book of dad’s that the men at Montreal River Camp signed shows that some close camp connections were made through the experience there.

But if it wasn’t for another connection from closer to home, with Walter Keffer of New Dundee (his first wife was the sister of Harold Hallman), the Dettweilers might just as well have stayed home summers. In 1966 and again in 1967, Dad packed the family in the car for a trip to Keffer’s Muskoka River cottage, near Baysville. This might have become a yearly tradition for the Dettweilers to rent that cottage, but on the second visit, Dad went and took a look a cottage nearby Keffer’s, just on a whim, says Mom. The real estate agent happened to be there and though this larger ($12,000) cottage on the river didn’t suit, he convinced dad to come and look at some other cottages on nearby Dickie Lake.GregAuntNormaMaryJohnandMom_atCottage1977

Mom says that the property line between our future cottage and Williamson’s next door had to be established by a surveyor and so, while she wasn’t sure at all about this venture of Harold’s – we didn’t know anyone from back home that had a cottage – she felt that if it was of God, the complications would be worked out. Her sympathies might have been more towards it not being God’s will, she realizes now. I’m sure I can hear Dad’s rationale borne of Dad’s own personal hankerings for the north. It did make sense for a family that now boasted 6 children to be able to vacation economical-like.

Whenever I pick up a copy of the Muskoka Sun or alternatively, similar publications put out vaunting the real estate of the Laurentians, near Montreal, I start dreaming, having dad’s same thirst to own a piece of the rock known as Canadian Shield. I have Thoreau drilled into me, however, informing my spirit that I don’t need to own it to enjoy it and that the danger of real estate is that it might own me, but I still like to entertain for brief periods the notion that there is a cottage built on a rock next to a lake that was meant for me.

I’m so glad that Dad hadn’t read Thoreau. That cottage on Dickie Lake has shaped our lives and will continue to do so. We just can’t help it – we have Dad’s genes.DettweilerFamilyReadyfortheSeventies_2DadTedGregswimmingearly70s_2Hammock

Ted at 4; Dad at 43

Philately

still the same stamps in the variety packetsThe impulse to collect stamps is labelled “philately”.  Between the ages of ~9 years old and 15, I possessed that rather solitary passion and it might be a major contributing factor in the development of my adventurous nature.  That need to explore goes hand in hand with a lack of fear of the unknown, in my case, and it brought me to Montreal, ideal home for adventurers…, and stamp collectors as I discovered today.

A small ad in a paper that I read rather assiduously led me to exup 42, which I suppose can only be the 42nd Exposition of the Union des philatélistes.  The ad promised both free entry and free parking, but I took the scenic route by bus along Jean Talon this morning and walked up to the second floor of the Maison  du Citoyen in Villeray – St. Michel – Parc Extension fashionably just after the 10am opening.

After a few words of counsel from the Union people, I was directed away from the merchants and into the Bourse des timbres à 10c de l’UPM.  Taking my seat with the other early birds, I introduced myself, “Mon nom est Ted et je suis une philatéliste”.  I blague (I’m joking).  It was more of a square than a circle, due to the tables in front of us.  In the middle of the room were other tables piled with hundreds of albums holding what the UPM volunteer described as “surplus stamps that their members were willing to sell at 10 cents each”. I had the full extent of my circa 1975 stamp collection along with me, and since there were some stamps that I lacked in a “World of Sports”” stamp album from the USPS.  I started by looking at “thematique” albums which contained various – boats, bridges, flowers, animals and, not least, sports”.  Soon I was lost in the beauty of stamps, filling out a dim sum-like summary of my purchases. MLK_Togo_timbreAfter a slow browse through 4 or 5 thematic albums, I was getting the hang of the system and decided that I would follow up on a recent read of a sort of autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. starting with stamps from Africa honouring him.  The albums of African countries, from North to South, Angola to Zanzibar piled before me failed to yield up a single Martin Luther King stamp, though I remember reading that he did travel there.  Finally in the Togo Republic, I found the civil rights hero’s image on a stamp.  I know the obvious is to look for MLK in USA, but since presidents and prime ministers like John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill can be found everywhere in the stamps of the world, I expected the same for this martyred civil rights hero.  Not the case.

The take home for me, besides a selection of stamps that I can use to illustrate future blogs on a variety of topics touching history or geography, is that there are people like me whose interest in stamps is not about rarity or even the collecting impulse but who see stamps as a “trampoline au monde entier”…, and a good conversation starter.  J’ai côtoyé du monde fort engageant aujourd’hui et c’est pas le monde des timbres, mais le monde des philatélistes.

Reverend Toussaint

My last blog spoke of a busy birthday weekend for me with both a Jireh concert and a Montreal Gospel Choir performance as part of an event marking black history in Burlington, Vermont.  In this blog I want to highlight an unexpected pleasure for me on my birthday – something that happened quite by surprise and was the perfect way to mark my 55th birthday.

I made the remark to a couple of my fellow MGC members in the weeks leading up to our choir’s second career performance in the United States that if there were any border troubles and for some reason, or perhaps some unwelcome choir member we were refused entry at the Quebec – Vermont border, it actually might turn out to be more interesting  that way than performing at the scheduled event.MGC  And I, who really do love performing anywhere, love especially performing to the people of Vermont.  This is a people as mellow as the Green Mountain Coffee that they serve, but you can count on them to raise their hands and participate actively in a  gospel concert. In the earliest years of Jireh, and before that with Union Gospel Choir, I had the pleasure of being before an audience who not only loved my Lord Jesus but outwardly indicated the same in the way that they responded to his music.  Rarely seen in Canada, this gospel fervour, I must admit.

The building of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington was what my ideal church building would look like – simple, but infused with light with windows on both sides of the sanctuary on the main floor and the balcony floor.  My own chosen church in Montreal does not possess such easy access to light.  We are a multi-campus church that has a goal of having a location in each borough of Montreal.  I may just drive across town to some foreign borough should we ever find a location with the quality of light that the Unitarian Universalists of Burlington possess!

The choir performed, and I must say we performed just a little better than usual because we were actively encouraged by the greater part of the black audience and even those of the whiter solidarity set.  My wife, Carol, as director is world class.  I love watching her lead – she has all the skills on and offstage to excel in her chosen field.  Then came my birthday surprise as Reverend Toussaint King Hill from Atlanta, Georgia was introduced as the speaker at this black history month event.

Carol and I went to see a civil rights era movie recently.  “Hidden Figures” is set in the very early 1960’s in the state of Virginia and follows the story of 3 black “computers”, women who used their dexterity with adding machines and sometimes, when given the opportunity, their math abilities to enable NASA to send men and spaceships into orbit and to bring them back to earth again.  Civil rights history in the United States is so close at hand to us as Canadians and is so troubling because my privileged class of whiter peoples in all their institutions were so slow at bringing equal rights and access to education to their neighbours who didn’t share the same ancestry.  It is striking to Carol and I, this injustice, as we can testify as a married couple that there are far more things that we share in common than there are things that would divide us.

Faith in Jesus Christ is perhaps the greatest unifying element that Carol and I share.  Carol loves hearing preaching even more than I do as she continues daily to hear the word of God set forth (through means of the internet) while I get my preaching fix but once per week at church.  This was my once per week prescription that the introduced Reverend Hill was bringing today and for Carol, it was a sampling of something too rare for our northern breed – African American preaching in the tradition of the great Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

Reverend Hill is a distinguished alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, without doubt one of the greatest colleges among all the outstanding educational institutions in United States.  He prepared there, as Martin Luther King Jr. himself did, to be the pastor of a church.  Reverend Hill received his present call as pastor in 2006, to West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta.  This was the church that Ralph Albernathy also pastored for many years, another renowned civil rights leader, colleague and friend of Martin Luther King.  Could there be a better speaker possible for a black history month event in Burlington, Vermont on a sunny day in February?

The sermon, for our speaker did not shy away from his gifting even in this Unitarian setting, started slowly, a cadence well-known in the southern states.  As the sermon developed, Reverend Hill added different “tracks” – biblical, historical, musical, mythical, inspirational, political and educational.  Instead of going serially from one track to another as a less-gifted speaker might, he wove the traps into a tapestry – one theme appearing for a minute before it stepped behind another track.  There was a large white handkerchief ready next to the pulpit for Reverend King’s use.  By midway through the sermon, it was obvious that our speaker would be needing the handkerchief even in these northern climes.  He was working the tapestry which was meant to both honour and inspire a people.  You certainly didn’t have to be black to be inspired and moved by his words.  You didn’t need to be a believer to have a great appreciation for his subject of the afternoon, but for those of us who were of the faith in Jesus, he rallied us to proclaim it and to acknowledge Jesus with him.

Carol could not have hoped for a speaker who better represented the preaching style that is native to the churches that birthed the gospel music that Montreal Gospel Choir sings.  His connection with American Civil rights history  and his practice as a preacher to continue in that tradition along with his obvious faith in God and love of Jesus made him the perfect person for us as a choir to back in this event.  Sometimes pastors are accused of “preaching to the choir”.  Because of the willingness of Reverend Toussaint King Hill to come north at the invitation of Patrick Brown, sponsor and organizer of this event, he had the opportunity to preach to a choir very different than the gospel choir that he has in his home church.  As Montreal Gospel Choir continues to develop in its unique way, Reverend Hill’s sermon on February 26, 2017 will no doubt provide a frame of reference to us in faith and in singing.  Preach it, brother!IMG_0763

Life when busy

It is my 55th birthday weekend….and what a weekend is planned!!!!  We didn’t plan it this way because it is my birthday, but, this is definitely my idea of how to celebrate a birthday!

I’m giving myself 2 more minutes to write this blog post….so here is the weekend plan.  I told myself that I would start putting together the merchandise for the Jireh concert today in Sainte-Genevieve.  That’s on the island of Montreal so it is a home-game type of affair.  Around 9am, I should pick up the drum shield from Steve’s music. Sometime in the afternoon we’ll have the various |Jireh CD’s and the Get Up t-shirts and my wardrobe (intermission change of look – I sincerely love that, because ‘au fond’ I am a true blue performer and performers do multiple wardrobe changes during the same show) and the Jireh banner for the merchandise table and (have I forgotten anything?), oh yes, there is Carol, my wife and director of Jireh Gospel Choir.

Thinking of Carol, she would find it SPOT ON if I would suggest, maybe around noon today, that we stop what we are doing and pray for the concert today in Sainte-Genevieve and for the second part of the birthday mad weekend which is a Black History Month concert in Burlington, Vermont with Montreal Gospel Choir.  We have much to pray about, you can see.  We want to do the choir thing well – both choirs.  Do well in our interactions within the choir and in our brief but important relationship performing before an audience.

So, there will probably be a cake or two on my choir extravaganza 55th birthday weekend, but the thing that will make it so special is that at 55, I will be celebrating with people I love doing something that is such a big part of my life, something that I LOVE doing and that gives my life fulfillment and purpose.

More on this weekend, later – perhaps a resumé of highlights when I return from Vermont on Sunday evening!

Vanity Fair

On Friday, I decided to end my work day with a walk downtown for a much-needed haircut.  It’s always a pleasant experience for me at Icone Coiffure.  Brenda Desmarais has been cutting my hair for approaching ten years now  – it’s a sure thing.

Another sure thing is that afterwards I take the Sainte Catherine street route home.  Contrary to my wife, Carol, I really like visiting the shops.  So I went that way.

I must say I was disciplined to walk right on by the audio shop where I most recently purchased a centre speaker for my home theatre system.  I considered whether I should look at the next possible addition to the home theatre system, but, like I said, I was disciplined and stayed away on the other side of the street.

Immediately after, I crossed over the street for the H & M store where they promised special one-day only bargains.  H & M specializes in cheap fashion.  When I found the men’s ware – moved from the top floor to the basement floor I thoroughly investigated. I tried on one dark green shirt – seeing if it would go with the dull green pants I was wearing and also enjoined a blue shirt and similarly coloured T-shirt.  Trying them on was a revelation.  Not a pleasant one – my belly, which Carol used to comment on as “cute” now was making me take a pledge to cut down on the food that I’m eating as well as maintaining the winter skating and skiing.  So I decided to leave H & M with no purchase.

Next block – H.M.V.  The liquidation signs in the window were real.  Montreal is losing its last dedicated music store – I mean for CD’s and now DVD movies and TV series and concert DVDs and all kinds of frivolous music and movie merchandise.  I really thoroughly looked through DVD’s.  (Why would I want to own a movie or TV series when I can stream it on demand?)  Descended to what was left of the music industry on CD’s in the basement.  (Why would I want to own music on CD when I can have anything I want for $10 per month on Spotify?).  Left H.M.V. with nothing but a mild depression about the limited revenues left to artists (like Jireh) from recorded music.

When I skate or ski, there is nothing better than to have the right clothing for staying outdoors comfortably for hours.  Decided I might need a better toque and sought to fill that need at Sports Experts.  Up to the third floor where I found where they were hiding winter apparel.  Contemplated the high prices and inadequacy of the toques available.  Looked at high quality long underwear.  You can never have too much of this stuff.  Prices in line with what I might have spent at the audio store.  Decided that the old-fashioned Stanfield long johns that I got from dad were retro-cool.  Left this store down the stairs (they were renovating the escalator) with nothing.  Woops – why do I still have this knit neck warmer still in my hands.  Back up to return it….and exit with no purchase, and no criminal record.

I had a reason to go into Indigo Books, but I don’t recall at the moment what it was.  They have some reasonably-priced books…$6 or so and I looked through those.  Remembered when it used to take a lot longer for this sale browse.  Remembered when I used to occasionally buy books before the e-books at the library became so conveniently available on my iPad.  Similar reflections about the limited revenues left to writers as I had in the H.M.V. store about recorded music.

Then I left Sainte Catherine street and went inside to the parallel underground inter-connected malls.  I can’t remember stopping much here.  Briefly in Winners – but they had no winter-ware.  Into the McGill metro station skipping the last couple of malls and then a brief last chance past racks of clothes in the men’s section at the Bay, up the elevator and north toward home.

At the supermarket just 2 blocks from home I refreshed my memory of my earlier belly-reduction resolution and didn’t buy the 10 lb. bag of potatoes for $2.49 or any of the clearance baked goods.  A bag of quick oatmeal and a can of coconut milk (Kayin’s rice cooked in coconut milk made an impression) and I was on my way home.

skate

This Saturday morning, January 28 I set out, not quite “bright and early” but [cloudy] bright [skies of winte] and at an hour that was just slightly before the Lebanese green grocer on Avenue de Parc opened.  I set out with good intentions to make myself a Saturday-style good breakfast.  That meant finding a dozen eggs, and, you know, when I go out, I always like to accomplish two things, so…[productivity boost]…I had done a major closet cleaning three weeks ago and then left the culled clothes obstructing the closet space and our best clothes basket.  This would be the morning the odd assortment of clothes is released from my hoarding ownership.

The eggs accomplished, I dressed for another sure-way-to-make-it-a-good-Saturday….and here I am writing a Saturday morning blog, now in the Old Port of Montreal and at my favourite winter place,  the skating rink.  Pieces falling into place….I see the skating regular who recommended “L’artiste du patin” to me [see my blog on that – when it comes out there would be a link HERE]….On the ice and, may God be praised, there is not only excellent ice and few people, there’s this guy, Chris, with hockey skates [I think I’ve seen him here before] and I love his skating style….I ask him [he has to take his music out of his ears]….I say, “I like your skating style.  Can I take a short video?”

You know, that all went so well, and I spoke to Chris shortly afterward, getting his name and asking what kind of music he was listening to [Reggaeton – something with a beat].  Went back to skating to the rather mellow Harmonium [I LOVE it when they play quality Quebec music] and then quite soon they announce that they are bringing out the Zamboni to resurface the ice and so I grab the laptop [new, with a solid-state drive and battery life to boot] buy a cookie at the cafe, and starting putting down the blog in my head.

At about the point where the last paragraph started, I thought I might check just how good the video was….I really have to remind myself that I have to press the red button twice….I have nothing but Chris skating away after I [thought] I stopped the video.

Ice resurfaced….I skate….Oh, look….Chris is back doing his thing!

Sunday blog and Ted in 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017 brings the renewal of my commitment to write a Sunday blog.  These will be, at the best of times, posted on the Saturday-preceding so that those in time zones further east (Europe, Africa) can read it first thing on Sunday and be blessed all Sunday.

I began my Sunday blog commitment on June 26, 2016, largely inspired by my nephew, Micah Dettweiler, who was writing an almost-daily blog while studying for the year at Oxford University.  My blogging record to that point was sporadic, so I decided to commit to a schedule of posting once a week.  I reasoned at the time, “How hard could that possibly be?”.  Today I counted and I hit my target of once per week roughly half of the time, posting 13 Sunday blogs over 26 weeks.

New Year, new commitment:  for 2017 I purpose to write 40 Sunday blogs – that gives me roughly 3 whole months of holidays.  Not bad, eh? How hard could THAT relaxed schedule be?Jesus is coming

Often Sunday blogs are reflections on things that are on my mind.  In addition, as a believer in Jesus Christ, Sunday blogs might be a good venue to dialogue some of my beliefs associated with Jesus.  To the right is the perfect photo that I took one morning at Payne’s Bay, Barbados: “Jesus is coming!” cleverly posted next to a bus stop sign.

I do believe that Jesus is coming.  I believe in his “imminent” return, which means he could come at any time.  Along this well-traveled road leading to Speightstown the buses passed every 5 minutes or so.  I could say to my fellow traveler, “the bus will soon come” based on my observations that there were plenty of buses traveling this road.  If I say “Jesus is coming soon” what would that assertion be based on?  I don’t have a schedule, so “Jesus is coming” is not followed by “at 3:25pm on February 26, 2017” or any such date.  I say “Jesus is coming” because it says in Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon” and again in 22:20 “Surely, I am coming soon.”.  Both passages in my Bible are marked in red – words of Christ.  The same author of Revelation, John, in his gospel summarizes the completed purpose of his writing in  John 20:30-31. “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Yes, I believe.  I believe that Jesus is the one promised by God, the Christ.  I’m convinced, with John, writer of the gospel and of the book of the Revelation that Jesus is coming (back) again.

“Yes”, I say.  “Come again, Lord Jesus”.

 

Angel choir, shepherds, manger, Jesus

Manger scene

I strongly believe that the Bible was written by people. Today I want to consider a very well-known passage in the gospel of Luke which includes the 3 main characters in my blog title plus some heavyweights that I left out (angel of the Lord, Mary, Joseph). Luke’s purpose in writing his account of Jesus is to give certainty to the believers about the things they have been taught (Luke 1:4). He does this by consulting eyewitnesses and writing the story in greater detail than we have in any of the other three gospels.

Manger sceneThere are details of Jesus’ story that only Luke has: an angel choir appearing to shepherds to announce the Saviour’s birth and the angel of the Lord giving instructions that they will find this Saviour, newly born and wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. God, who is in control of all things, could have arranged that an angelic choir-backed birth announcement be staged somewhere that would have a bigger audience – the temple in Jerusalem comes to mind. If Luke were making this up this kind of setting would have been more spectacular, of greater import.

Sheepherding was not a respectable occupation, yet God either ignores things like societal status or, perhaps actually prefers communicating with those humbled into doing lowly work. David, the greatest of the kings of Israel, learns everything he needs to know about God while tending sheep. Here we are, back where God chose David – Bethlehem, the city of David (Luke 2:4). Here is born a worthy successor in David’s line, but in this coming as Saviour it is announced to the most humble. This is the Most High who has angel armies (and choirs) in his command. A birth so humble that only God could, only God would choose to be among us as a humble servant.

img_2380The family manger scene that we had in our family (pictured to the right) received a lot of attention as little hands loved to wind up the music box attached to the stable structure and listen to it play ‘Silent Night’.  This amazingly durable piece of workmanship was made in Italy and must be well past 50 years of use.

It was in Italy in 1223 where Francis of Assisi created the first ‘presepio” (manger scene, or crèche).  He recreated the scene with living animals so that people would refocus on the meaning of Christmas and could picture this ‘Holy Night’ when God became flesh.

 

 

Image

Me and the food business

This week at my 5 à 7 group (Bible study and prayer group meeting in a home), I received a compliment on my cooking, featured weekly in this venue.  “You should start a restaurant, Ted.”

While I always appreciate the intent of this comment, I am never tempted in this direction for these particular reasons:  1) To make outstanding food it takes hours of prep work.  No restauranteur simply buys the best of Costco prepared foods and warms them up for their customers.  Working with the best ingredients you create within a culinary tradition – French cooking with lots of butter, Italian with attention to the vegetables.  Without a doubt the tradition that I would draw on would involve meat.  There are a half dozen meat dishes that I do well and then there are a bunch of casserole, one-dish comfort foods that mostly draw on my smoked sausage as a star ingredient.  If you start with the best ingredients and you don’t mess it up along the way somehow then the result will please the palate.  All of my cooking is a labour of love, which starts at the fact that I like eating this kind of food.  But would I cook to earn a living?  Unqualified no.  2) Montreal is a city of so many good restaurants and yet on any given night you can visit one and find only one or two tables occupied.  I always do the math if I’m eating in an empty restaurant.  Is my $40 or $50 restaurant bill enough to pay the rent in this place, let alone earn a living for the owner?  I’m afraid the answer to that is another “no”.  My restaurant would undoubtedly be one of these that fails to make ends meet.

One of my favourite supermarkets in Montreal featured grain-fed capons in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.  I was fortunate to buy one and bring it home, where Carol set to Googling to find if that bird was a small turkey or a large chicken (yes, to the latter).  Then, as I so often do these days, I went to the internet and came across a restaurant recipe for cooking the capon that I thought made a lot of sense.  In fact, this chef-owned restaurant in Manhattan had produced an entire 400 page cookbook that may possibly cover everything that an aspiring copy-cat restaurant owner would need to put on their menu to have a restaurant serving outstanding food.  The chef owner, Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune Restaurant, also wrote an autobiography which I recently finished reading (see my Goodreads for a few of my comments).  This afternoon I set to browsing through the Prune restaurant cookbook and by the time I completed this I was psychically exhausted from all the detail of running an outstanding restaurant.  I’d counsel anyone who would have their own restaurant to read these two books authored by Gabrielle Hamilton. At one point in her life Gabrielle pursued an education in writing as a way out of the cooking business.  While it turned out that this was not to be her calling, she put her writing skills to work in describing her own life and the result is an education in food and its preparation (and much more).

The pictures in today’s Sunday blog are some self portraits that I happen to like, taken in mid-December 2008.  The equipment is all washed up and I am bundled up against the cold, as it was my preference, for the good of food I was preparing, to work in a chilly shop – just above 0 degrees Celsius.  I’m nostalgic for those days, but it’s a comfortable sort of nostalgia that knows I’ll never be going back down that road of having my own shop.

Engagement

engagement rose

The roses at my local-preferred flower shop, Florateria on des Pins in Montreal, are magnificent and fittingly they have names to inspire the imagination.  “Engagement” did that for me.  It brought to mind the time, 19 years ago, when I had entered into an engagement for life together with Carol Bernard.  Such good memories of being on the edge of a permanent life change and enjoying every anticipatory moment.  I had to buy the rose – it had singular beauty, one was the only appropriate number, five or a dozen would only diminish the glory.

In the months between the day when Carol accepted my proposal and the the day we married we searched out and found a home that will most likely be the only place we will ever need to call home.  We didn’t know just how perfectly it would fit with our future lives.  I knew at the moment that I carried our first Christmas tree two blocks home from the supermarket that I would enjoy bringing my country ways home to our condo in the city.

Engagement rose on dining tableOur engagement to each other has, from our very first moments together, always included the engagement to a joint “projet de société” of being in, about and all through a gospel choir.  As friends, we began Jireh together out of being brought together in Union United Church Gospel Choir.  The years added River’s Edge Gospel Choir and then Montreal Gospel Choir.  This Sunday, that last choir and its’ 90-some singers will be blowing the lid off of the church that Carol and I call home.  We didn’t imagine something big like that when we began our life together but with God life has been ordered, blessed and the kind of thing you could describe in the most positive words the prophet Jeremiah can muster, “a future and a purpose”.