Sunday, April 22, 2012


I wrote this piece for Christine in late 2011 as a celebration of my wife and as bit of entertainment for her personally. She loved it. She has in my mind done so much for so many people through the years, and the loads of talent she has owned naturally and through training she has either infused into other people's lives or allowed to lie fallow in order to attend to priorities, usually related to family. Through it all she ran a deficit of deserved praise and respect. So here was an anecdotal way of giving her some of that.


Christine has loved singing since she was a small girl. Her mother was a great encourager of song and dance with her children. It’s no wonder that her daughter and sons and grandsons became participants in Gilbert and Sullivan shows. Mrs. May Langlois began early with her daughter, dressing her up, and giving her opportunity to shine vocally and in dance. Christine had a natural talent, a singing voice that was above average. As she grew through her teen years she continued to sing and to develop as a singer. She was good. She held fantasies of making it on stage somewhere, in some fashion. She also firmed up a relationship with God and as a result she felt more inclined to investigate whether she should become a missionary, although that avenue was not at all clear to her. She nevertheless enrolled in a Bible College. Early in this training she was encouraged by a college vocal coach to dedicate herself to vocal training which she did. Her performances during college days were outstanding in operatic, oratorio and spirituals. Then for all the right reasons, falling in love, getting married, having children, accommodating to her husband’s career, she sidelined her vocal aspirations for a long time. Several years into her marriage she began to train again, hoping to accomplish her ARCT certification (Royal Conservatory) and that sadly was scuttled by last minute laryngitis just before her scheduled test. And that was that.

What she found as her husband pastored churches, was ever present need for and opportunity for her gifts and training in music. That involved countless engagements for solo performances and duets within Christian venues, women’s meetings, summer conferences and such. In the early years she and her husband were privileged to join two of their college friends to perform as a mixed quartet. Predictably she was asked to organize weekly music schedules and programs and lead choirs. If she saw a need and wasn’t asked she proposed it and made it happen. All such situations fed to her organizational and leadership strengths.

Years pass and the weekly church duties ended and so did her opportunities to sing and to be in stage. Rarely did an occasion arise when she was invited to sing since that was no longer the ability about which people in her changing life knew her. Yet she still had this inner longing to be on stage where she found great personal satisfaction. She voiced this frequently enough – these unfulfilled dreams that a few folks told her she should do something about it.

So sure enough she did. A nationally televised talent show called TALENT CANADA, comparable to America’s Got Talent, was preparing for a year long series and taking auditions across the country. In this particular show scenario, her age was not a factor. Young and old could try out. In fact selections would be made as the great numbers of contestants were being thinned and the over sixties would be one group that would have at least some representatives as it moved forward to a final 16 contestants. She was singing all the time. She had sound tracks of popular music to which she seldom listens but she learned the songs and sang to the tracks. It was sounding better each week. She went to the Vancouver audition feeling foolish and her family accompanied her. She was nervous before but she figured she had nothing to lose and to her surprise she was give the YES to move forward. Section after section, she continued to sing and dazzle the judges and the crowds. Her family was in awe. They had never heard her sing like this. Her children had always and only heard Christian music from her and her grandchildren had no idea their grandmother could do what she was doing. And what she was doing blew all the saints she had ever known right out of the veritable water.

Each performance night she did a different genre. Judges could hardly believe it. They told her once that she should stick to ballads but after hearing her branch out, they stopped talking. She was doing “I will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor, and 'Killing Me Softly with His Love’ by Karen Carpenter, and then “River Deep-Mountain High’ by Tina Turner in a soulish raspy sound that erupted the crowd.

Now the show was becoming serious and her personality rose to the occasion as did her confidence and she had backup singers and a band that rehearsed for days before the show. She was in Toronto in a fine hotel for many weeks, all expenses paid. Her extended family living in and near Toronto were now able to come to the performances to cheer her on. Her brothers were like wild men in the crowd following her songs, whooping and cheering. Best vocal performance of the night she heard on a couple of occasions from a judge. One by one the contestants were sent home but not Christine. Then down to two, Christine and a young 19 year old male with an astounding voice and a promising and predictable future as a superstar of music. Who knows where Christine’s voting base came from. Teens were texting and calling 24/7 and it would be assumed that the 19 year old kid would garner an avalanche of votes. On the final night, the night that the champion would be announced and be the recipient of a recording contract and two million dollars and a new BMW – well you have heard of a tsunami. Christine was swept into ecstasy by a tsunami of votes. She cried. Her family cried. She was on stage and she was ---- singing, singing her winning song. She saved her best for the last night's performance and then sang this as she accepted her win. She sang the rambunctious song entitled ‘Respect’ originally done by Aretha Franklin, and she brought down the house.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The B.C. Liberal government is using legislation to circumvent collective bargaining. That’s the manner by which this purportedly democratic party, this avowedly pro-family premier and her ministers are dealing with the impasse in negotiations with B.C. teachers. It is by the way, an impasse generated by an outlandishly wrong-headed handling of educators, offering no increases of any kind and numerous other demands for concessions by teachers. There are matters of great importance to teachers, such as class sizes and staffing levels which are being disregarded; and matters that are important to boards of education, such as teachers’ evaluations and management control of the workforce are receiving attention through Bill 22. One would be right to say Bill 22 is a subversion of a bargaining process.

All of us who believe that education of our children and grandchildren is of paramount importance and who also believe that educators are valued members of our society and who make invaluable contributions to our families and our society need to do what we can to encourage our government to seek a resolution to this bargaining impasse, a resolution that respects free collective bargaining and addresses the range of issues that teachers and boards of education are passionate to discuss.

The solution is certainly not one by which the government dictates the outcomes. Resentment is the only resultant outcome of such action.

I believe that the public have to be more than merely listeners to news but proactively telling our government to get it right. Deal fairly and equitably with the teachers who daily invest their lives in the betterment of our families.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


BILL 22 is an insulting Liberal government imposition upon the teaching profession of B.C. It will exploit educators in order to save educational dollars. It will remove current class size and composition limitations which will impact the teacher interaction with individual students for the sake of reducing the number of necessary teachers and classrooms. It attacks professional autonomy and the prerogative of collective bargaining. It is contextualized within a simulated mediation process overseen by a mediator of the government’s choice and who without a doubt will be supportive of the uncompromisingly combative position by the Liberal government that devalues education and educators by legislatively imposing employers’ demands for teachers to concede with respect to seniority, evaluations, placements, discipline, layoff and dismissal. Parents and the public in general must recognize the offensiveness of this treatment of educators and its prospective affect upon students.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


My friend Bill Bonikowsky worked for Youth for Christ for 27.5 years, so when he, a Vancouver Canuck fan learned that a couple of youthful missionaries with YFC in Rwanda had cleverly produced a video, he shared it on Facebook. Tonight is the first game of the first series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sixteen teams vying for supremacy. Vancouver went all the way to the finals last year and in 60 minutes of play of the seventh game of the final series they sort of, didn't show up. But the Canucks are back. First in their division in the regular season, and first over all other teams in the entire league. So, now as tho none of that mattered, we begin again, with fewer teams qualified to play, but beginning from scratch as it were. No points, no goals for or against. I will be watching with my hockey sweater on to cheer my team. And there in Rwanda, among children who hardly know what skates, a hockey puck, and an ice rink are, these missionaries have spread the gospel and raised a crowd of fans. They actually even convert an Edmonton Oiler into a Canuck fan. What a delightfully fun project for workers far away from their own home. Thanks to Mark Koop and Charlotte Browning, producers (Youth for Christ/Youth Unlimited)

Monday, April 9, 2012



It was Easter Weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
I enjoyed it all – all except the time just before ten o’clock when I had an episode that required Christine to call 911 and paramedics came racing to my aid.

I don’t know what brought this on. I was at my laptop in my art room and Christine was watching her recorded movie. I suddenly felt disoriented and got up to correct the sensation. I have been accustomed to low blood sugar experiences, dizziness, weak spells, but this was more pronounced. I moved to the kitchen just steps away in our new smaller home, looking I suppose for a drink or something to eat that would dispel the mental confusion. But my mind was not clear. I couldn’t help myself and I recall calling to Christine to help me. The next moment I remember is looking up at her face as she spoke on the phone to the 911 service operator. Somehow she had managed to help me get safely to the floor. My mind cleared soon after I thought. I could not remember what happened and still can’t remember beyond the moment I called to her. I wanted to get back up. She insisted that I stay on the floor which is where the paramedics spoke to me, helped me up, took a blood glucose test and a few other tests, spoke sympathetically and went on their way, promising to return for me if I needed to call once again. Christine has been traumatized once again. This wasn’t a seizure as in grand mal as I once had in Edmonton in 2005. Merely a wee nap. I likely shattered my blood sugar stability with careless eating yesterday. I will have a consult with Dr. Blackmore. I will probably have to begin once more to do regular blood sugar testing.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


This past Tuesday I had a productive day that had some crazy moments. Christine and I drove to Jeff's and Gina's in the AM to take Kale to school and take Kadence shopping and to our new home. I then went on some errands having promised that I would pick Kale up after school at 2:30 PM. I was pleased with my efficiency and as time passed I checked my watch constantly and read 1:00, 1:30, 2:00 and then 2:10 PM at which time I told myself to hustle to the school. I arrived with five minutes to spare and found a place to park and listened to some music for a few minutes and then went to get Kale. But there were no cars, no parents and no children anywhere. I hurried into the school office to find that the school clock read 3:45 PM. Secretary asked, "Are you Kale grandfather?' I answered "yes." "Well he had a good cry and then we called your wife to come to get him." I told her, "I will have a good cry to because the whole family will be angry with me." She laughed. I went to my car and found that it wouldn't start. That battery was dead or dying too. Just then my former neighbour Daryl turned the corner, saw me and gave my car a battery boost. We had a good chat and Christine showed up relieved to see me. She thought I was in hospital somewhere. This is what happens as you age, your batteries die. So tomorrow it's a new watch batter and a new car battery and a defibrillator for my wife's heart.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I journalled yesterday morning. "In the book about Job the troubled man of faith, chapter five commences with the Command and Question "Call now; is there anyone who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn?" Momentarily the writer asserts, "As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:"

"And with that I will begin my day, watchful through its hours for a citation of my own illustrations of God's innumerable production of great, unsearchable and marvelous things. In only three days of residency in this community I have met Pat and his gorgeous chocolate Lab with the brown nose and hazel eyes. I met Lindy and her three dogs who finds life here good but people unfriendly not realizing yet that she remained silent until I greeted her. There was Kim in #35, and Tim in #205 who said hello on our first night here. Peter and Pam live behind us and keep to themselves but he did tell me that I would like it here and it is quiet. Across the grassy median of the complex, lives retired Joe the smoker with his white poodle and his working wife Sandra and Joe parks his Audi persistently in the visitor's parking spots between our homes. Brett and Ashleigh live right beside us. Brett was barbecuing last night when we struck up our first conversation. Christine sleeps still as I write and she will rise at seven AM so we can drive together to our son Jeff's home where she and Gina's two children, Kale and Kadence require our attention as both parents go to school to teach. I will walk Kale (7) to school, and Christine will care for Kadence (4) until I return and then we three will return to our new digs. To this new life chapter with its spacial limitations we brought very little with us. We truly downsized. Two love seats, our desks and activity assets, i.e. easel and sewing machine & surger, baby grand piano and a king-size bed. Over time other necessary items will be added as we take our time to look for the ones that suit our place and taste. I prepare to officiate a wedding on the 17th, a Tuesday and Noon. As well, I will get my heart ready for preaching on the 29th, the Sunday before our new pastor comes to begin his ministry at Fort Langley Evangelical Free Church. That's all for now."

That's what I wrote at the start of the day. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


The Closet Guys came on Monday to measure our master bedroom for a custom closet. There is no space in the room for dressers. It will be functional and attractive.

Then the piano movers came with Christine's baby grand. They surveyed the turn in the outside staircase and deduced that they wouldn't be able to make it, but we asked them to try before we had them take it to a local music store for a possible trade-in on an upright. They surprised themselves and made it up into the den where it looks impressive. We have no table at which to eat and no stools for the island and no chairs upon which to sit but we have two love seats and a king size bed and our arts and activities room with our desks. Christine has been exceptionally creative and accepting of the fact that we do not have the kitchen cupboard space to accommodate all of her sets of dishes.

Fine dishes and Christmas dishes remain in boxes in the clean and comfortable crawl spaces. All of my paintings are in boxes in our secure storage unit underground. We actually drove past our house of 20 years the other day and both of us agreed that 5767 185 St. didn't feel like our home. That was proof that a page has been turned.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


We are no longer there. We are here. Yesterday ended last night. Tomorrow dawned through a new window today. There is sunshine. I believe we will be alright.