Monday, August 30, 2004


I did make a double batch of salsa on Saturday. It took a long time to chop all the ingredients because we don't have a food processor. Also, I didn't put in enough jalepeno peppers. But live and learn...

We went to Karen's Mom's house for supper on Saturday night. She's a great cook (like her youngest daughter!) and Bethany got to go in for a swim at the pool at the apartment. Joel was at a Birthday Party.

On Sunday we had some friends over for lunch on one of those spur of the moment kind of things. It wasn't fancy, but there was lots of good food and friendship. That's one of the funny things about hospitality - people don't really care if its a fancy meal on fancy plates. What they really care about is getting together with friends. Don't get me wrong. We have friends who put on fancy meals on fancy plates because they love doing it, and they still manage to be very hospitable. But most of us shouldn't be intimidated by hospitality just because the house isn't perfect, etc.

Karen tells me she'd like more people to comment on my blog. I guess I'm of two minds. It's interesting to see people's thoughts and to get a better idea as to who reads my blog, but on the other hand my blog is my musings and I would have these musings even if nobody else were to read them. I periodically archive my blog to my computer as a personal diary. Maybe in years to come I'll go back and read my comments. So feel free to comment or to lurk, as you see fit.

A former employee of mine returned from a vacation in China and left me a gift of green tea. I brought it home to share it with Karen. I still have some green tea at work given to me by another former employee who returned from a vacation in China. It's the kind of thing I drink occasionally and enjoy when I do, but don't do too often. I just never think of it.

Tonight I want to work on some sermons. I have some messages coming up in 1 John. I've really been enjoying studying the passage, but now comes the real work of turning it into a sermon.

We have little privacy at work, because you can hear all the people in the cubes around you talking. This morning I heard the guy in the cube talking on the phone. "Yes, he has liver problems and now we find out he has diabetes. He's 6 years old, and with the right medicines he might make it to 13 years old." I felt terrible! You think you have problems and then you hear this kind of thing. My heart went out to that family. Then the guy says, "Yes, the vet says the medicine will cost about a dollar a day." Well, I feel bad for the dog but it did change my perspective on things!

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Hannah slept well last night, didn't sleep well the night before, and slept well the two previous nights. I'm feeling a bit under the weather with a cold. The two oldest children are doing well with their school work. They have songs about verbs and Bethany is doing multiplication and Joel is learning about similes and all sorts of things.

Karen canned a batch of salsa the other day. We're going to do a double batch on Saturday. The home made salsa tastes so much better than the store bought! We got a copy of Lehmanns Non-Electric Catalog the other day. There are so many interesting non-electric gadgets! A non-electric lifestyle is somehow seductive, but I think the reality is a lot of manual work and no air conditioning! Still it would be nice to be a little less dependent on the electrical grid!

Bethany has been practicing on the new piano (digital, not acoustic. Ignore previous non-electric comments). Also, Karen has been playing it and sharpening some skills that had grown rusty over the years. I think she sounds terrific.

Last weekend was really busy. On Saturday for lunch we were at a BBQ because some friends were in town. It was really great, although not everyone on the invitee list could make it. For supper we were at a shower for Karen's niece who is getting married. Unfortunately I felt ill, and we had to leave early. Sunday morning I was still a bit ill, but had to drive to Pembroke to preach. It was a nice drive and I ended up feeling better. Nice folks there! Sunday night we had our annual church corn roast. Every year the whole church goes over to the Shepherd's house. Sometimes it's a pot-luck, and sometimes it's a BBQ. But the fixture is a huge caudron of fresh corn on the cob. It's a nice time of fellowship, and we usually get a number of visitors who get the chance to find out what Christians are like outside of church. I took Monday as a vacation day to recover!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Retraction (sort of)

At supper, Karen told me she read my most recent posting on my blog, and thought that it might give people the idea that her first day of school was easy. In fact, it was hard, but she got through it and it went well. Karen is very sensitive to the fact that we all struggle with the pressures of life, and she feels it would be false to make it seem like she (or the Abigail family in general) cruise through all problems and stresses without being phased. In fact, like everyone, we have our ups and downs. We'll rhapsodize about Hannah late at night when we should be sleeping, and then get filled with dread when we hear her starting to stir. The kids are doing well with homeschooling, but sometimes they don't want to do their work and need some motivation. So yes, there are challenges in life, and we aren't always at our best. However many things are going well and we have so much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

School Days

We started school again last Monday. Karen and the kids couldn't wait to get started, and since we home school, there is no reason to wait! Also, in the back of our minds is the fact that by starting early we can take more days off throughout the year when Hannah is fussy, and still meet the legal requirement of teaching for 180 days.

Karen planned a special "kick off" breakfast on Monday morning. It had a Disney theme, with pictures, stuffed characters, a special tablecloth and quite a selection of foods (including sausages, scrambled eggs and a "breakfast lasagna" made with pancakes and fruit). Of course, Hannah picked that night to be a fusspot. By 4am, Karen still hadn't gotten to sleep, so I took Hannah downstairs for a couple of hours. The net result was too very tired parents! But Karen pulled it off and the first day of school went well. Today also went well. The kids are really enjoying the material.

It's not true that everything in the Abigail household revolves around Hannah's sleep patterns, but her sleep patterns do have an effect on everything. Last night it took 2 hours to get her down to sleep. Tonight she went down almost immediately. But what will tonight be like...?

In addition to Edgar the Dragon and Scrofulous the Monster, the children have now been introduced to Snortaloticus. Snortaloticus has this name because he snorts a lot. His character is still forming. The children also love to hear stories about when I was a child, over and over again.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Test your knowledge of geography

I ordered a catalog today, from a place down in Ohio. The guy asked me how to spell "Ottawa". I pointed out that it is Canada's capital, but that didn't seem to phase him.

Some years ago I was at a conference for a software product we used at work. The conference was held at Disneyland California, and the company paid the shot for me to stay at the Disneyland Resort. That was back in the good old days. Anyway, the day after the conference I noticed some folks who still had their conference badge on, which identified them as being from "Cambridge, ON". Being me, I decided to have a bit of fun. I introduced myself as a fellow conference goer (but was not wearing my badge). I said, "where's Cambridge?" They said "Ontario". I did my best to look confused. They said, "Ontario is in Canada". I did my best to still look confused, but nodded my head uncertainly (as if seeming to acknowledge that such a place may exist). They were amazed and dumbfounded, so they asked me where I was from and I said, "Ottawa". Then we all had a good laugh.

Interesting News Story

Have a look at the story at

At the beginning they say that these prisoners are on a hunger strike for "more family visits, telephone access and an end to strip searches". At the end they quote the Palestinian Prime Minister as saying "We fully support the legitimate demands of the prisoners and the ending of the policy of collective punishment, torture and terror by the Israeli prison administration against the prisoners and their families." Does this sound like torture and terror? Surely the Palestinian Prime Minister would not be exaggerating in order to put the Israelis in a bad light?!!!

Don't get me wrong, the secular state of Israel does lots of things that are wrong, but the bias of the international media is definitely in favour of the Palestinians!

Thursday, August 12, 2004


I saw the old movie "Zulu" a couple of nights ago. How old is it? Well they introduced a new actor named Michael Caine in the film. The film is about the defence of Rorke's Drift in South Africa at the end of the last century, where 80 British soldiers defended a small mission station against 4000 Zulu warriors.

The film itself is entertaining, but is a curious mix of historical accuracy and artistic license. The cases says that it is based on a true story, and it is. But that doesn't mean everything in the film is true. The "actor" playing the Zulu chief Cetshwayo was the actual Zulu chief from the 1960's! The Martini-Henry rifles were authentic. Most of the characters were based on real people.

However, artistic license seems more important than truth. Private Hook, V.C. was portrayed as a petty thief and a drunk, when in fact he was a teetotler. Lieutenant's Chard and Bromhead got along fine, but the film introduced tension. Yes, Chard was not an Infantry Officer but he was the ranking officer because of the date of his commission, but the film indicated it was a couple of months when in fact it was 3 years. The Zulus are shown with Martini-Henry rifles when in fact they has muskets. Rev. Witt did escape the camp, but he was not a drunk. His daughter was not present. The British took far less casualties than the film indicated. Finally, there is no evidence the British sang "Men of Harlech" in response to the Zulu war chant (and if they had, it would have been to different words than the ones composed specially for the film).

The characters are interesting. Perhaps the one I found most interesting was Colour Sergeant Bourne. While he was not among the 11 men who won the V.C. in that battle, he did receive an eventual commission, which was almost unheard of for that time! Bourne is interesting because of the way he maintained discipline by keeping his cool rather than losing it. A glance or a steady words was all that was required. Of course I am left wondering if the real Bourne was that cool, or whether this was another historical fiction, invented for the entertainment value. As a side note, Chard received a Brevet Supernumary promotion to Major, making him the first man in the history of the British Army to climb directly from Lieutenant to Major without becoming a Captain. Bromhead received the same honour, but would have naturally received a Captaincy due to the previous disaster at Isandlhwana.

Books, etc.

An order from Christian Book Distributors just arrived. I ordered 6 different books on Christian thinking and preaching. This should keep me going for a while!

Hannah has been sleeping a bit better, though it is often a challenge to get her down. She'll go to sleep at 7pm, but then wake 30 minutes later and fuss for quite a while. She still feeds 2-4 times each night.

I preached last Sunday night at Bridlewood, and it seemed to go well. However, a lot of people were on vacation. Only 9 people came out to the mid-week Prayer Meeting. Summer is tough. On the 22nd I'm preaching in Pembroke for the first time. I do know some of the folks there already.

Saturday, August 07, 2004


Another busy Saturday is winding down. Today we did more rearranging of the furniture and finding a place for everything. I also went to Canadian Tire, practiced a sermon, wrote a short article and took the 3 children for a walk. We didn't make it to the library today, but Bethany and Joel still have plenty of books left from their visit on Tuesday.

I've been encouraging Bethany to practice a certain piece of music on the new piano, even though it's summer. I'm hoping to rebuild some of her skills before music lessons start again in the fall. Also, Karen is using it and refreshing her skills, which she hasn't used for the last decade. Joel doesn't seem to have much interest in music lessons, and we've asked him about other things like art lessons, but he isn't interested. We'll keep suggesting things for him.

I was talking to a Muslim fellow at work on Friday, and really became convicted about being more constant in my Bible reading. He is trying to memorize the Koran, and I often struggle to do some daily readings. When I study for a sermon I dig out all sorts of interesting stuff, and I really have a good time with it. But on a day to day basis I find the reading hard.

Hannah slept well last night. Just the regular 2 feeds. It was a challenge getting her down at the start, but once she was down it was good. Hopefully Hannah will sleep well again tonight.

Friday, August 06, 2004


The best thing about rocking babies is you get to cuddle them. The two worst things are (a) you sometimes get itchy and can't scratch, and (b) you usually have to do it at the wee-hours of the morning.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Random Updates

On Tuesday I took an extra vacation day and spent some more time with the children. I also spent some more money. Bethany is at the point with her music that she needed a full 88 key piano with the actual piano feel (which is not found on a keyboard). So, on Tuesday I bought a digital piano. It is electronic, but has actual hammers built-in, so it has the actual feel of an acoustic piano.

Last night was rather tough with Hannah. We put her down to sleep, she'd thrash around and wake up, and then we'd repeat the cycle. We got her down at 1am, and I also spent some time rocking her at 5am. As soon as the children are in bed tonight, I'm going to bed tonight. There is so much I wanted to do, but getting a proper amount of sleep is edging them out.

I am wondering if there is any simple hardware that allows the recording of mp3 files. My hope is to find an easy way to replace (or suppliment) the cassette tape recorder we use at church to record sermons. I posted a message at work, asking if anyone had advice. Then I realized what I had done. All of a sudden, $200 million worth of electrical engineering and computer science talent, possessing a combined 10,000 years of university education, was suddenly unleashed as my personal Internet search engine. More than a dozen messages, most with URL's included, rapidly arrived. There will probably be another dozen replies for when I arrive at work tomorrow. The Internet is a powerful tool, if you've got access to the right search engine.

My final random update for the day is the interesting piece of news that one of Al Qaeda's guys was picked up in Pakistan. It's been posted on and all the others, but an interesting article on put it into perspective. This is the guy who has been running Al Qaeda's computer and encryption systems. He had access to all of the encryption keys Al Qaeda has used for years. Now the various western intelligence services have the instant ability to read all of the messages Al Qaeda has encrypted for the past 4 years or so. Al Qaeda must laugh themselves silly at all the restrictions we place upon ourselves in the fight against terrorism. On the other hand, every time they use anything electronic, we win.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave

I've just finished reading "Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave". It is much acclaimed in homeschooling circles, among those who are seeking to develop a Christian worldview. To give a micro-review, I thought it was good but dated in it's predictions. Like books on Biblical prophecy, it was good when it stuck to the facts, but fell down when it tried to make application to our current world and predictions for the future. For example, the sections dealing with the future of Communism in the Soviet Union were way off. The book was written in 1990, so it is understandable that it should be somewhat dated, but a better approach would be to avoid making predictions. On the whole it is a short and easy to read discussion of the impact of the lives and thoughts of seven men who have shaped the world we live in. An intelligent and educated person should be aware of how these individuals have changed our society, often for the worse.

Hannah Sleeping

Hannah slept much better last night than she has for the last week. It is amazing how this changes your whole outlook!

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Challenges and Blessings

Yesterday we moved my study out of the fourth bedroom and into the master bedroom. One of my bookshelves is out in the hall, but the rest fits quite well. Our course, the counterpart to this was setting up Hannah's bedroom in the fourth bedroom. Yes, she's now in her own room. All the hauling of bookshelves and books left us tired, and all told it took about 7 hours, but it was worth the sore muscles and tiredness.

However, last night Hannah decided to be a bit of a fusspot and also woke up in the middle of the night all bright eyed. I was up with her from 3-4am and from 5am on. Karen didn't really get to sleep until 4am and was interrupted by a 5am feeding. In other words, we were exhausted today.

This would have been a lot easier to take if I wasn't preaching today, but I was scheduled to preach at Bridlewood. Being that I had a hard time putting 2 words together and drifted in and out during conversations, I stuck quite close to my notes. I know that many people believe that preaching without notes is best, but on days like this the notes really help. Honestly, without the notes I would have been fairly incoherent. As it was, people seemed to appreciate the sermon.

Tonight we didn't go to church. Hannah is very fussy and I think she is having gas pains. I plan to go to bed early tonight, if Hannah allows it!