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Monday, December 31, 2012

MY MOST NOTABLE MEMORIES OF 2012

MY Most Notable Memories of 2012                                   Ron Unruh

This is my own personal list of cherishable memories over 2012 , arranged to reflect their value to me during this year of my 70th Birthday, during which many events were part of a 12 month celebration of that milestone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

UNRUH CHRISTMAS 2012

 Christmas 2012, and happily I slept until 6:30 am this morning. Neither a mouse or my spouse is stirring just yet. I am reflecting just now on how life and customs adjust with the years. Enthusiasm has evolved into satisfaction. A morning kiss will softly communicate our thankfulness for one another. Christine and I will give the other a gift we have chosen for ourselves. Santa is quite out of this picture.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

MIGHTY MERCY


God loves to "magnify His sovereign strength." This is the answer to the question John Piper poses in the poem "Mighty Mercy": Why did God choose such "strange and roundabout" providence "[t]o get Messiah where He must be born?" This poem exalts God's absolute sovereignty in the "flukes of history."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

LIKE MY FATHER

I used to hear that as one ages, the increasing tendency is to look like one's parent. I loved my dad but he lived for 28 years after retirement so I saw what old age is and does. I believe that I have managed to stave off the look alike predictability pretty well, that is, until a few months ago. I suppose it was when I turned 70 in September that I began to acknowledge that I am looking like my father; wearing my teeth like my father; struggling to wage a battle against skin irritations like my father; wearing my pants like my father; wearing my hair as short as my father; beginning to shrink in height like my father, becoming deaf like my father; having sight impairment like my father; living with unfulfilled dreams like my father. I am my father's child. That said, I know that I will do well if I can be as content for the next twenty years as my father was and if when I die, my family loves me as we have loved him. One other commonality with my dad ... I am married to a beautiful woman.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

HAPPY DECEMBER 12,2012


Happy Dec. 12, 2012!

Today is a numerical marvel, 12-12-12.  Consecutive date sequences are rare occurrences and somewhat mysterious. This one is the last major numerical date of this sort on the Gregorian or Christian calendar for a long time. So, today is the last time that the month, day and year will all be the same number — at least until the next one which I will not personally experience on January 1, 2021.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

LESSON FROM NEMO


Captain Nemo lost faith in humanity and had no interest in the affairs of the world.
Given what we hear and what we see, it would be understandable if more of us developed the same deliberate detachment. But then we would be uninterested in any recovery program. Good thing humanity’s creator did not similarly choose to divorce from his creation.

That observation was prompted as I watched a 2005 movie, Jules Verne's Mysterious Island.  

Entertaining, suspense-filled, and totally fictional.

The Creator of humanity however rather than disconnecting himself from his creation, came to live among us and then sacrificed himself in order to redeem the race and quite noticeably while this too sounds like fiction, it is after all a matter of faith, isn't it?  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

AT HOME OR AWAY


I am well aware that I am seventy years of age. I probably spend too much time reflecting upon what this means.  I do not live the quick-paced life that I did a few years ago, when hurrying to be on time at the office, or a meeting or the airport. Then my mind was occupied with tasks and commitments. Not so much any longer.  Living in this retirement segment of my life permits perhaps too much time to consider the things that are happening to me physically. I still go the gym each morning at 6 AM, but that doesn’t eliminate entirely the affects of a lifetime of wear and tear on joints. Osteo-arthritis in certain seasons is problematic for me. I am not pleased that my hearing and my vision is declining and I mention it only because it is noticeable to me now in these past few years.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Help Me Win Please / THANKS I WON!

THIS IS HOW THE BLOG POST BEGAN ... "I need your Vote. I entered a Painting into a Contest with some of Canada’s best artists. There is an important sequence to vote. If enough people Vote for my painting then I may well win."

NOW I AM ANNOUNCING THAT I WON, THAT IS ONE OF THREE PEOPLE WHO WON.

Press the link (url) and go to the ART in Canada Facebook page,
then on that page at the Upper Right press LIKE the Art Page site,
and then you are permitted to scroll down until you find my painting - to Vote or like my work.
I need your Vote.



The painting that I submitted for this contest is this one.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

THE COLOSSEUM


The Colosseum

In my life a second time I have walked here trouble free,
A spectator unlike those who populated benches
When once luckless creatures died.
A skeleton almost, imposing still with ancient strength,
Noiseless now but for the clicks of shutters, thousands daily,
Where once voices brashly cried.

Images of early stone for the people back at home.
Imagining the macabre carnage in the name of Rome.

A reformist culture, progressive we presume to be.
We wince that a society could delight in death as sport
Amusement at little cost.
Globally our race still honours those who contest to win
Risking injury and inflicting pain, applauding them,
Savagery - little is lost.

Images in high def and digitally screened at home.
Diffident revisions of first century sport in Rome.



Written by Ron Unruh, October 18, 2012 reflecting upon a visit to historic Amphitheatre of Rome.

Friday, October 19, 2012

SEA TOWN


SEA TOWN

Overcast day – overnight rain
Most pleasure crafts moored.
Marina life slow but for sailboats heading out to catch the wind,
Crews of eight.

Trawlers dockside on Saturday,
A work day still, not on the waves but in port,
Repairing nets and ropes, scrubbing, maintaining,
A steady pace, some heavy but untiring, efficient
With animated Italiano, strong-voiced conversation
Through lips tightly holding cigarettes, always.

Ready for a new week here in Fiumicino,
Home for fisherman, out early each morning
Returning at 1800 hours to waiting locals and merchants
Eager for the day’s catch,
Transferred to patrons in Rome and nearby ristorantes.
The fragrance of sea mingles with the smell of diesel and tobacco.

Shortly it looks like a rain again, announced by sizzling lightning,
Crashing clamor and rain storms like a veil dropping
Moving shoreward, and the sailboats turn and head for home.
Waiting, all of us, long enough and the sun appears once more.




Written by Ron Unruh, October 13, 2012 watching from a Fiumicino window on a typical day in the Italian port.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

ME


ME


Where did I go, the Me I remember?
That Me with his slender and sinewy torso,
Legs like mainsprings could spring and sprint;
Hair thick, hardened to shape and cool.
Where did Me go?
She whimsically asked me one morning
Eyeing me closely
Was I still in there?
By which she meant beneath the folds and lines
Was her young man present?
Did he still exist?
Charming but painful the question,
That it could be asked is life
As it happens
To celebrities and everyone and Me.



written by Ron Unruh
October 15, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'M NOT A NARC


Tell me how you think I feel ... sitting in the dental hygienist's chair, my mouth open as she worked and I dozed off. Following that appointment I drove to Army & Navy & noticed an 80 year old man in the shoe department sitting with a boot in his hands and he was sound asleep, head bobbing. How far am I from that?

I mentioned this to a few people. One person calls it narcolepsy. Great, now I have a neurological disorder. I don't just catnap. You can call me 'Narc.' However, I am convinced I do not have narcolepsy.

I like what my wife said. She told me that she could never just doze off, suggesting to me that I was fortunate. I can grab ZZZZ's anytime and any place obviously.

I am pretty sure I have an explanation. There has to be some connection between daytime drowsiness and early morning rising. I love my early hours, quiet, productive, but I likely pay for them by zoning out or getting drop dead weary when it's convenient.

No, I don't have narcolepsy. I can contr.......ol my.. sleeping................. and... waking......... cy..cles.............................

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I WONDER WHERE HE IS


I WONDER WHERE HE IS.

He has not been there for a few days.
For months he sat on the bench inside a covered bus shelter, a shopping cart, ‘borrowed’ from some grocery outlet, packed high with his belongings.
Bearded, usually wearing a cap, he sat for hours, both day and night. He couldn’t venture too far, not with everything he owned left unattended. Not that anyone would touch, never mind take his stuff. He slept on that bench.  Occasionally I might see him exit from nearby bushes where he had relieved himself.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I AM A SEPTUAGENARIAN ACTION FIGURE

It's September 13th, and once again as it does every year, my birthday celebration has arrived. This year the day has substantially more significance for me, in that while I have been enjoying a few of the perks of my senior classification, I am now a confirmed codger. I have turned 70 years of age today. I am a septuagenarian. Can you see the numerical French root 'sept' in yet another English term?

The term might be used in the following manner but I will not let this be true of me, 'He sat there, a portly septuagenarian sunk deeply into a leather chair." Rather, I intend it be said of me, "Ron was the first septuagenarian action figure." I may have a long way to go since although I go to the gym each morning at 6 AM, I am failing to lose any significant weight. My tummy although still muffin topped is hard. Because of that, although Christine knows that I leave for the gym, she suspects I am stopping for a fast-food breakfast.

The world continues to be obsessed with youth and beauty and success and that won't change. The fashion world gravitates to 20-somethings and that too is predictable. However, I have earned my sartorial stripes and I am a fabulous septuagenarian as is my wife Christine. Our style is timeless and it has little to do with fashion or skin-care. We are simply sensational and have the confidence to prove it. We own our looks and at 70, I am cool.

What a Wonderful 70th Birthday I had.
I went to the gym, shopped for a rose bush and a plum tree, took my grandchildren and daughter Cari for after-school pre-dinner ice cream cones at Andy’s in White Rock, walked the beach, came home for aperitifs & Lasagna supper with my family (11 of us) courtesy of Christine, my requested dessert (my mother’s Egg Custard Pie Recipe) went on a scavenger hunt organized by my grandchildren, sat while family read blessings to me capped with a prayer, then to each of my children’s home to plant the rose bush and the plum tree. And all children to bed. And then the grand finale, a serendipity … en route home I decided to drive past our old home and there we saw our kitchen stove, only 3 years old sitting on the front lawn available to any claimant of garbage collector … nothing wrong with it … so, I quickly returned to my son Jeff’s place, we hooked up his utility trailer, picked up the stove and delivered it to a family with four small children whom we knew could benefit by having it.







Tuesday, August 14, 2012

THE INTEGRAL VALUE OF WHISTLING


Whistling. We must preserve the whistle.

My father whistled. I remember his whistle, musical, on pitch, pleasing to hear.  Only much later upon reflection did I associate his whistle with his temperament and his state of mind. Dad whistled most of the time, and he was predictably content. Only on the rare occasion when life was stress-filled, was there a conspicuous absence of the whistle.

I remember learning to whistle as a boy and the habit, I prefer to call it the ability, is identified with me almost as much as with my father. It is a virtual compulsion, an addiction perhaps. I whistle when I am feeling positive and comfortable and I also feel well when I whistle. Whistling is an expression of pleasure with life and how I relate at the moment to my place in the world.

My brother Murray similarly displays the aptitude. It requires no external stimuli but a radio, CD or iPod will certainly inspire the whistle.  When Murray and I have enjoyed the privilege of painting together, we are invariably engaged in a symphonic duet.

I do not otherwise hear much whistling around me. People seldom whistle. That’s an indicator I believe of the quality of life and how it is being experienced within this information laden, distracted, digitized, driven and frenetic world.  So I am determined to foster the art of the whistle with my grandchildren. Each of my grandchildren has come to me at one time or another to demonstrate with pride an ability to generate a sound with curled tongue, over teeth and through pursed lips. Last night I asked Kale and Kadence to let me hear them whistle. Even with a missing front tooth Kale could do an abbreviated scale.  Certainly there are assorted and significant contributors to life fulfillment but the whistle is still one of the most personal and sincere confirmations of peace within.  Listen for the whistle.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

45 YEARS AGO CHRISTINE MARRIED ME

It was on the Twelfth of August 1967 that Christine married me. She was a beautiful bride. She could be nothing less. I was bronzed from summer work on a road building crew. It was sunny and warm Garden City Day (St. Catharines, ON).

Months earlier, Christine had accepted my marriage proposal offered at nearby Niagara Falls. In the company of our many college friends and our family members we exchanged promises that we intended to keep as long as we each would live. Now 45 years later we are still on track. She has been a patient woman, a resourceful wife, an enthusiastic partner, a devoted mother. I have loved her eyes, her smile, her positive outlook, her generous spirit and her independence. Much of my reputation and accomplishment is due to my relationship to Christine Frances May Langlois. She meant what she said to me 45 years ago and I am grateful. I love her.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

REUNION TOUR - Stage 6 - PETERBOROUGH AND THE BUNN HOSPITALITY

Monday was travel day again. We said goodbyes to Jeff and family as they prepared to drive directly back to St. Catharines where they stayed until their flight back to Vancouver on Wednesday morning. Wednesday is Gina’s and Jeff’s 13th Wedding Anniversary.

Ferndale Bible Church
Christine and I instead took Hwy #7 to the city where I pastored Ferndale Bible Church from 1974-1981. Our children began their schooling here at Kawartha Heights Elementary School. We lived in a parsonage separated from the church by the church parking lot. The parsonage has now been sold and pastors are provided a stipend that enables them to purchase their own homes. The church appears much as it did when we were here but with some interior design changes. Christine and I had opportunity to speak with Pastor Peter Keniphaas and Pastor Jim Welch.  We knew Peter from his years serving a church on Vancouver Island. Jim was a small boy when I pastored the church. He grew up, married, has a family, became a realtor, and then as it turned out was invited to become an associate pastor here. There are so many friends in this city whom we wish we could have arranged to meet.
 
During these two days we have enjoyed the friendship of our dear friends Paul and Janice Bunn. Paul is employed as the long-time manager of Queen's Crown Antiques, a high end store of collectibles, furniture, porcelains, paintings, you name it from the UK. He is a gifted antique assessor, millinery practitioner, dress maker and through the years he has been very kind to us. Their lakeside home at Upper Chemong Lake provides a pristine view of the water in all seasons, and a respite from the city at any time. I have visited them here on numerous occasions through the years.
Queen's Crown Products

   

REUNION TOUR - STAGE 5 - SMITHS FALLS & A FLOOD OF MEMORIES


En route to a second family reunion, that of the “Langlois” clan, Christine’s family, we took time to stop in Smiths Falls. Our son Jeff was born in this town’s St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1970. 

Gina meeting Martin & Jennifer for the 1st time
Driving along Hwy #15 I was not prepared for my own emotional feelings in coming back into this area. The sunny skies enhanced the visual delight of travelling on old highway #15 to Smiths Falls. Christine and I lived in Smiths Falls from 1969 – 1974 when I pastored Calvary Bible Church. So many landmarks, names of towns and roads and so many buildings, houses and farms evoked the memories of our trips up and down this highway to go to and from Toronto or St. Catharines for business functions or family gatherings. 

Robert, Jeff and Cathy
Before arriving at Smiths Falls we took a chance that we might find the cottage where our dear friends, Ken and Frances Maley once lived. We and our children had spent many happy summers with them. They were known to our children and numerous others in town as Uncle Ken and Aunt Frances. We knew that Frances passed away a couple of years ago. Upon locating the cottage, a neighbour lady saw us and she had known the Maleys very well. Her mother was sitting on a dockside deck and she was happy to speak about the past, friends we had in common, and current news. It was a lovely serendipity.

Cathy, Richard & son Arthur & Patty 
We booked into our registered rooms at the Best Western and then drove to the church I once pastored. Cars outside indicated someone was inside even on a Saturday. We gained the attention of Georgina MacIntosh who remembered us from those distant years. She was in her late teens when we were working in that church 40 years ago. She spent time with us rehearsing names and histories of many people we had known. We toured the sanctuary and the rooms downstairs and made the acquaintance of a few people whom we met for the first time. We dropped by our old home at 46 Daniel, looking no better than it had four decades earlier. We popped into Lockwood Electronics looking for Dave Ryan, proprieter, son of Al Ryan the original owner Al Ryan but he was not in on Saturday. Al and Marg Ryan were good friends to us. Marge passed away a couple of years ago. We were told Al and his new bride were on an Alaskan cruise.

Cousins
The town of 9000 residents doesn’t have a particularly attractive main street and sections of the town look very poor and worn out, but the town still has a character due to some stately stone and brick buildings and largely due to the Rideau river and the Rideau canal that identify it with history and current convenience for pleasure craft that ply the waters between Ottawa and Kingston and other places along the way. They move leisurely through hand-cranked locks.  We noticed that many businesses and landmarks were gone and new businesses and housing had been constructed.

Christine with neices Jennifer and Tara
Jeff and Gina and their children Kale and Kadence arrived a few hours later, joined us for a swim and later for a dinner at Gerbos Greek Restaurant.

O Sunday we drove in tandem to the reunion of the Langlois Family, meeting Christine’s two brothers Robert and David and their wives Gloria and Patty and their children and grandchildren. This was a hot but pleasant time shaped by the discomfiture of updating personal news with people we have not see for 5, 10, 15, 20 years. It was nonetheless a worthwhile idea.

We all went our own ways at the supper hour, with us driving back to Smiths Falls and Jeff and Gina and the children visiting the Parliament buildings and then hurrying back to us for a late night swim on a very warm evening.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

REUNION TOUR - STAGE 4 - UNRUH FAMILY REUNION DAY

Collage courtesy of Jeff Unruh
We have just had a most remarkable day. The Unruh family met each other for a grand time of happy hugging, laughter, story-telling, games, splashing in a pool, enjoying picnic foods, and realizing just how fortunate we all are to love each other.

Mom and Dad Unruh have been gone from us for four years. Their funerals were the occasions on which we were last all together. Geographical distance and the cost of covering it now impede our family gatherings. We believe that Mom and Dad went to be with the LORD. This confidence comes from a faith that has characterized the personal commitments of most members of this family for all of the generations that I have known.

The eldest of the family now are my parents' three sons of whom I am the eldest, turning 70 in September, then my brother Murray who will be 65 in September and our brother Neale who will be 59 in October. St. Catharines is the city in which we grew up. While I was born in Hepburn Saskatchewan, both my brothers were born in St. Catharines, the city to which my parents moved looking for opportunity following the end of the Second World War.

Diane and Murray
Murray and his wife Diane continue to live in St. Catharines and they will remain there after having spent their lives in serving churches in Burlington, London, Main Centre SK, Oshawa, Vineland and St. Catharines. Latterly Murray worked in a foundry and Diane has been employed at the hospital. Their daughter Beth, married Eric Woelk and they live with their two sweet young daughters, Selah and Klaris, just outside the same city among the orchards of the Niagara Peninsula. Beth is a speech pathologist and Eric is a school teacher. Murray's son Matt is married to Cristina and they enjoy three children, Aaralyn, Ellery and Silas and they live in Virgil. After serving as a worship pastor in White Rock BC for several years, Matt is now an associate pastor in a Niagara Falls church. Drew, Murray's second son also resides in St. Catharines and is presently on staff with a visionary church with four campuses providing him with opportunity to use his musical, technological and people skills.

Kathy and Neale
Neale and Kathy live in Dorchester, a bedroom community for London, and they too worked in church related missions ministry for many years before beginning a cross stitch supply store twelve years ago in London. Their daughter Amy is married to Chris Hollywood, and they live in London. Amy is a hospital lab technician and Chris works in a furniture retail outlet. Both of them are keenly involved in their church life and work as volunteers.

Christine and I have lived in British Columbia for 22 years after 21 years of church related work in Ontario. Our two children reside minutes away from our home in BC. Our daughter Cari is married to Tim Locken and they have three children, Kailyn, Ryan and Jayden. They were the only ones unable to attend this function. We took the edge off of our mutual disappointment by skyping so that we all could see and speak with them. Cari and Tim have been active in church work in previous years and are attending the same church where Christine and I are worshipping. Cari is a homemaker, scrapbook and music instructor. Tim is self-employed as a painter/renovator.  Our son Jeff is an elementary school teacher married to another part-time teacher, Gina Mikkelson, and they have two children, Kale and Kadence. Jeff has numerous interests and pursuits and both he and Gina are enthusiastic about their involvement in a new church plant in Cloverdale BC where they volunteer.
Christine and Drew in conversation

Friday, July 13, 2012

REUNION TOUR - STAGE THREE - part three - DORCHESTER & LONDON

Breakfast on Monday with Neale and Kathy and Amy and Christopher was at Cora’s Restaurant in London. I have never seen a menu with as many selections of fruit filled dishes together with crepes and meats. Delicious and enjoyable.  From there we toured Neale’s and Kathy’s Cross Stitch store called Thread & Eye which they have operated for twelve years.  As we proceeded to Amy & Chris’ home we noticed I had a front passenger side tire issue in the rental vehicle – a nail causing a slow air leak.  Finding an Avis outlet we learned that the company would give us a car exchange and we would be charged for the tire repair or even a new tire which might range from $45-$250 depending on how it was reported. We decided instead to take it to a local repair shop and they did the fix in 5 minutes for $15.

Christine and I were pleased to drive along Queens Ave to see the building that once was the main facility of the Bible College in which we were enrolled in undergraduate years.  The Ladies dorm and the Men’s’ dorm were on adjacent corners. It was quite nostalgic. This was where I met Christine when we were in our early twenties and I loved her almost from first sight. We would become engaged and married before she graduated and I graduated.  

On Monday afternoon we drove to Kathy’s family farm, the Smale farm where her brother Bob works. There Christine and I were introduced to the values and potential of a plantation of a tree specie which could become a cash crop in a relatively short time. The tree is called Royal Empress.

LCBM now named Queen's Village is a Seniors Retirement home now
After another good night’s rest, on Tuesday morning we drove into London to visit with Dave and Sharon Gast, college students with us fifty years ago. Our school was known as London College of Bible and Missions. We cannot fathom the passage of time. Since this was a Bible College, singing was a significant ingredient of social and worship life. The four of us sang in a mixed quartet and did so long after graduation. When I was pastoring a church and Dave was directing music in another church we occasionally provided nightly music concert s at summer Conferences. After a lovely news catchup visit with them, they led us to a restaurant where several other good friends from college days were present. What a joyous and revelatory experience to meet people whose names have not changed but whose faces and stature have. Each time I experience a reunion of this nature, I am reminded that regardless of my youthful state of mind, my physical appearance to others is a bit of a shock, and that is life as it happens to us all.  On this occasion, Christine and I were thrilled to enjoy the company of Eleanor (Ellie) and George McCullough, Dave and Sharon Gast, Barry and Helen Buder, Tempe and Mary Jean Templehoff (visiting from South Africa), Ralph and Jan Thornton.