Thursday, August 19, 2010

Childhood Stories - The Bear

My earliest memory that I know happened in my own head was a dream I had when I was three. We now lived at Reid Lake, north of Prince George, B.C. on a farm, I think. It had fields, and a pond, and a barn, and a creek, all the trappings of farmness. One of the fields was across the creek, I think it had to be forded for there was no bridge. On the far side of the field the track which led through the field went into the trees, out of sight and into imagination. Who knew what kind of creatures lived in those woods?

In dreamland the imagination can take mysterious things and show them in the clear light of day. I remember going to the field on the far side of the creek. I walked across the stream on a log which had been set there for that purpose. I was out in the middle of the field when I saw a big black bear standing in the track at the opening of the forest, and he was looking at me. I saw him get down on all fours, and I knew I had to run home or be eaten by the bear, so I ran as fast as I could go back to the log. I could hear him gaining on me, hoping for a little boy for lunch, but I knew, somehow, that if I could just get across that log the bear wouldn’t get me, because it couldn’t walk across logs like I could. I made it, and here I am today to tell the tale! Ah, dreams!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Childhood Stories - Church

We went to church in Prince George at the Evangelical Free Church, pastored by Cliff Deitrich, a short little bald fellow who preached with a good bit of gospel fire and fervor. My father had learned a good bit of what it meant to walk with the Lord from this man, and I owe him a great deal because of it. I don’t remember much at all about that church, except that I threw up in Sunday School one day, having eaten too much Puffed Wheat for breakfast.

I also remember getting to church on one particular Sunday. Our Ford van was broken down, and the only vehicle we had that ran was Dad’s new purple 1971 Ford pickup, which of course we all wanted to ride in. Grandma was with us that day, and we somehow got all nine of us into the cab of that truck and went to church. I remember sitting on the left side of dad as he drove.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Childhood Stories - Moberly - Dufresne's Cow

It was a fine summer, and Francis Dufresne’s beef cattle were out foraging in the rich meadows behind his farm. They were used to wandering far afield and fending for themselves; no need to return to the farmyard for food when there was a lot to eat back in the bush. They meandered their way to the back side of his property, where they found a fence in a somewhat weak state.

If Bill Watterson is correct about the behavior of cows when they are not being watched, these ones probably debated about the best way to get that fence down so they could get to the grass on the other side. One may presume that they got their biggest bull to come and lean on that already leaning fencepost until it was down low enough for them to step over it without hurting themselves. Ahhh! Freedom! They moved on thru the meadow until they came to a cultivated hay field, where they began to enjoy themselves. This was even better food than usual!

Someone from our house looked out across the field and saw a large band of Hereford cattle spreading out across it, having a good lunch. Once we identified where they came from, Dad and Mom rallied the kids and got us to herd them out of the field through the gate, out the driveway, and back up the road toward the Dufresne farm. When the cows learned that the gig was up, most of them co-operated with us and started following the desired path. But one cow and her calf lagged behind; she was more interested in grazing than moving. By the time she looked up the rest of the cows had gone through the gate and were marching along the driveway. She ran to catch up, but in doing so she missed the gate and ran further down the field with her calf. Seeing a fence between her and her friends, she did what she had been doing before; she stopped to graze. There is one in every crowd…

“Jamie, run down into that end of the field and herd her back out of there. We will set guards along the way that she came to keep her from going back that way.”

“Ok!” And off I ran, taking the long way so as to get on the other side of her.

I had been on the farm about a year by this time, but I was still quite uneducated in the ways of cows, especially ones with calves. I had not observed that look a cow gets in her eye when somebody or something threatens her calf, and I didn’t observe it this time either. I had herded our docile bunch of milk cows before, but this was my first experience with a beef cow.

I armed myself with clods of dirt and a couple sticks to throw at her, so as to frighten her into the right direction, and I headed out into the field, which was probably 150 yards across at that point. She was out in the middle, and I approached her till she was probably 30 feet away. I hollered at her to move, but she just stood there looking at me.

That was why I brought along the clods, as a secondary means of persuasion. I threw one at her, and it hit her on the shoulder. Her nostrils flared, and she looked hard at me, then pawed the ground. I threw another clod; same results, a low moo and a belligerent pawing of the ground.

I had never seen this sort of thing before, and I had obviously not read any of the right sort of books, the ones that would start ringing alarm bells… I used one of my sticks, which bounced off her nose and caused her to paw the ground again. “Stupid cow!” thought I. “She doesn’t respond to my yells! I’m going to have to get more clods!”

I threw my last stick with a yell, and she put down her head and charged me. I remember being really surprised, then turning tail and running as fast as I could, which was hopelessly slow compared to her… I didn’t run long before I tripped over a clod and fell flat on the ground. I was expecting to be trampled by this monster, but God, thankfully, had other plans for me. He must have told her to leave me alone and to go where she was supposed to go, because she turned around, called her calf, and walked right out the gate without a fuss.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Childhood Stories - Corn and Beans

Saturdays held the family rituals that I remember from when I was small, most of them are food-related. Mom would bake bread that day. I remember helping her punch down the dough, and the wonderful smell of the finished product coming out of the oven. I think she made cinnamon rolls, too, but I may be just wishing… Saturday night supper consisted of corn and beans and bread. Mom did deep brown beans in a slow cooker that day, with molasses in them, and were they ever good!

When I was in Bible college I went on a music tour with one of the teams PRBI would send out, and we would billet at peoples houses. I walked into one such house and was immediately transported back to my five year old days; the beans smelled just right, just like mom’s recipe! MMMM!
And I have always liked the colors yellow and brown together; it creates some sort of deep-seated, Saturday night satisfaction in my soul... I would eat my yellow smarties last, forget that song about the red ones…

We were allowed to have a cup of tea on Saturday night (but not too much, it might stunt your growth!), and we would watch Hockey Night In Canada. The girls always cheered for Montreal, and the boys always cheered for Boston. We usually ended up with four angry boys and two happy girls…

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Childhood Stories - My Mother

My mother passed away when I was nine years old, after a long illness which kept her in the hospital for three years. I have seen pictures of her from when I was a toddler, and she never looked well. I suspect that life weighed heavily on her; bearing and raising six children took it’s toll on her frail frame, and when financial difficulties arose they cast black clouds of uncertainty on an already uncertain endeavour.

She was not very stable physically when I was a child. One day when I was four we stepped out the side door of the house into the garage, presumably to get some potatoes for supper. The landing outside the door was about eight steps higher than the concrete floor of the garage, and it had a wrought-iron railing attached. My safety-conscious mom was leaning on this railing as we descended the stairs, as was I. The railing gave way suddenly, and both of us tumbled headlong onto the garage floor from a few feet up. Mom lit, I am told, on a garbage can full of potatoes; I lit on my head on the floor and cracked my skull. I remember having a terrible headache, sitting in bed and waiting for dad to come home, since mom couldn‘t drive. When he arrived, he took me into town to the hospital to get me checked out, and I had to stay in the hospital for a couple days.

My mother trusted in Jesus, and I am sure she must have taught us kids to do so as well. But I think her life was still a fearful place to her. Never having learned how to drive, she often left dad in a bind, needing another driver and having none. I remember an incident when dad had loaned a tractor to a neighbor a couple miles from home, and it was time to pick it up. Little kids could not be left at home alone, or perhaps dad knew we would need to offer moral support, so several of us got in the van and drove to the neighbor’s farm.

“But how will we get home?” mom asked dad.

“You are going to drive home.” said he. “I have to drive the tractor.”

Much protesting ensued, but dad won out. I remember his instructions to her, to keep both hands on the steering wheel, and to drive right down the middle of the gravel road, to watch for traffic on the two corners she would have to make. I remember that Dad drove the tractor ahead of us and we followed, with mom’s white knuckles gripping the wheel like it was some wild thing…

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Help with making Psalm sheet music

Greetings to you all, my friends!

    I am undertaking a project which I hope will be of benefit to the church, and I am asking for your help in it.

    Many of you have asked for sheet music for this or that song or psalm of mine, and I am pleased to inform you that such sheets are now being created for my psalms.  The first four offerings can be downloaded from , so that you can see what they are like.

    If songs are being used for the worship of God by the Church, should the artist collect royalties on them?  Should he be able to say “No, you can not use these word-for-word psalms in your church until you pay me for them.”?  Well, perhaps not in such crass terms, but…

    I would like to post these songs for download, free of charge, anybody can use them.  But they do cost money to produce; thus I am asking you if you would like to help finance the making of these psalm versions.  It right now costs me roughly $150 per song to get a finished copy in my hands.  If several of you would decide to finance a song, or several songs, or part of a song, it would greatly relieve the burden of creating them.

    I look forward to the day when the church again desires to sing the psalms, these songs of Jesus (Heb. 10:5-7), and have been writing these in hopes that they will make it easier for the church to do so.

If you would like to help, please send me a note and I will let you know the ways in which you can help.


Jamie Soles
780 539-3227

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Childhood Stories - Moberly - Bath

We had running water on the farm; if the person carrying it back from the well was strong enough, he could run with it.

We had a wringer washer and a good sized bathtub in one corner of the house downstairs. Dad built walls around that corner with more of his poplar lumber, several boards nailed to a 4 by 4 pole every few feet, and a doorway draped with a blanket.

I think these implements drained through some pipes Dad had laid down to the lagoon.  I remember hauling water into the house, for baths, but not out again…

Saturday morning, ten AM, time to start preparing a bath.  For best results, use the following procedure:

Find the plug, plug the tub. 
Put your boots on, and find a couple five gallon buckets. 
Go out the basement door, around the end of the house and up to the well. 
Let the dipping bucket down into the well, hand over hand, till it reaches the water, tips over, and fills. 
Haul the full bucket up, and pour its contents into one of your five gallon pails. 
Repeat this process for the second bucket. 
Take the handle of one full bucket in each hand, and walk, with as little spillage as possible, down the hill, around the house, into the basement. 
Take your boots off. 
Carry the water through the kitchen, and into the laundry room. 
Pour each bucket into the tub.

You now have a good inch of water in the bottom of the tub.  Repeat the whole process ten times more if you wish to bathe in any reasonable depth of water. 

Having done these preliminary preparations, you now have a bathtub with ninety to one hundred gallons of ice cold water.  To warm it up enough to bathe in, do the following:
Make sure the power plant is on.
Find the electric heater with the metal foot and the rubber handle.
Find an extension cord, and check it for open wires. 
Plug it in to the power source on one end, and the heater on the other end. 
Place the metal foot into the cold water in the tub. 
Wait for six hours while the water warms up. 
Unplug the heater. 

You are now ready for your bath, as are the other ten grubby people in the house.  Fight or negotiate for your place in the line. 

Following this simple 96-step procedure will insure that you get a bath, almost every time you do it!  For the maintenance and development of friendships at school, do it five times a week.  You won’t regret it!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Childhood Stories - Moberly - Encyclopaedia

Back in 1963, for the betterment of his children’s education, Dad had purchased an encyclopaedia set from World Book, and had continued to receive yearbooks from them until the early seventies.  I discovered this set sometime in my preteen years, when I was still in single digits.  I developed a great love for geography and maps, and for cities and population figures, for countries and which ones bordered them, for details about what were the longest rivers and the highest mountains.  If anyone wanted to know which city in the United States was the fifth largest in 1963, all they had to do was ask me.

Hardly anyone ever did ask me, though, so I resorted to telling them whether they wanted to know or not.  I would regularly pepper any of my siblings within range of hearing with questions about the things I loved.

“Hey, Peggy! Do you know what the capital city of Uganda is?”

“It’s Kampala.  Which river do you think is longer, the Fraser river or the McKenzie river?”

“The Fraser?”

“No, the McKenzie is 2500 miles long, and the Fraser is only 1200 miles.  Do you know what the deepest lake in the world is?”

“Jamie, how am I supposed to know all this stuff?”

“Well, it’s all there in the World Book encyclopedias!”

I should have been their poster boy…

I do remember a time in grade six when my knowledge left me in good stead.  I was not a very popular boy at school; our bathing habits on the farm kept getting in the way of developing relationships, they could only be done at a safe distance.  But we were having a team geography game, and four team captains had been selected by the teacher.  They were to pick teams.  Shannon Willard picked me first overall, the only time I think that ever happened.  “It helps to have Encyclopaedia Brown on your geography team,” she reasoned.  They used that nickname for me while the game lasted, I assume because I had knowledge (encyclopaedia), and because I failed to wash up much (brown).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Childhood Stories - Moberly - Card Games

Once upon a time there was a boy who did not like to lose. This made his life quite miserable, for losing was something he did often.

There were several card games in favor among the siblings, to help the evenings go by after supper. They played Three-Five-Eight, and Poker, and Hearts, and a few others. When the short-tempered boy started grouching in their midst, they would offer to let him play Fifty-Two Pickup. Having fallen for this a couple of times, he declined to play any more.

Though he was not a very good sport, the siblings, practicing their Christian duty, involved him in their games, though they knew that by doing so they would most likely compromise the peacefulness of their evening. The boy was touchy to begin with; his history of previous card game losses would set him on edge, but he was determined that this time would be different and he would be victorious. When the same old same old began happening, the ire would rise, along with the voice, the volume, the dander, and the angry tears in his eyes. Losing graciously, holding the prospect of victory with a lighter grasp, never seemed to have occurred to him.

The Hearts hands were dealt. The boy, having lost the previous six hands in a row, studied his cards, then passed three cards left, hoping to give some of his grief to someone else. He received in return three cards; not really good ones, but not as bad as could be either. His frown lessened.

In the second round he played a low card, but the person on his left played a lower one, as did the person across, and the one on the right gave him the Queen of Spades (Grrr!!! Anger from the boy, chuckles from the siblings.).

His next few cards were too high as well, and the person on the right kept feeding him hearts. Howls of protest rose; accusations of cheating, of picking on him, of being the source of most of the world’s ills were leveled at the siblings. With each passing card his voice rose, as each of the siblings always had a lower card than he did…

“It’s not fair! I’m getting so many points…” Which was, of course undesirable in Hearts. The hand ended, and there was the boy, with all the points. He wept bitterly, until it was pointed out to him that taking all the cards actually resulted in 26 points for everyone else and none for him. This made the boy happy, though he was still emotional, crying and laughing at the same time…

His siblings deserve many commendations for their patience with a self-centered and egotistical boy. I’m sure they all hoped he would not stay that way forever…

Thursday, July 08, 2010

On Psalm Singing

I remember my music history class in bible college, and the tale that was told there about the transition from psalmnody to hymnody. A young Isaac Watts was sitting in church, being bothered by all the dirges he was hearing. That afternoon he complained to his father about them. "I could write better songs than that!" he claimed. "So let's see you do it!" was the reply, and he took up the challenge and started writing the hymnody that took the Christian church by storm.

But why was the church so ready to change? I would suggest that Watt's characterization of the psalms as dirges has a large part to play. When the genevans were written, they were sung in such a fresh and vigorous way that the Catholic queen of France called them the "Genevan Jigs". But as time went along, and as spiritual coldness began to set in over a couple generations, all that "frivolity" was despised and rejected by the psalm singers, who were too dignified to behave in such a way...

By the time Watts came around in the 1700s, this spiritual coldness was deep and wide, and was reflected in the music of the psalm singers. So when he started writing upbeat, doctrinally sound songs that the church could again sing with vigor, it won the day on a wide scale.

We have seen the same thing happen in our own day in the evangelical churches transition from hymnody to choruses. I grew up in it, and I remember the standard way that hymns were "supposed" to be done... slow and dirge-like. No wonder the choruses took over. The people of God need both spiritual vitality and vigorous, joyful music.

If we want to restore psalmnody to the church at large, it will be vigorous, word-for-word psalm versions that will win the day. It seems to me that anyone in whom the Spirit of God is doing a good work is eventually going to become tired of the shallow waters of modern evangelical music, and are going to be very receptive to the psalms being sung again. But it won't be to Genevans, sung slowly. Genevans with speed could be another story.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

25 Random things about Jamie Soles?

1. I had 11 siblings in a blended family; the oldest was 11 years older than me, the youngest was 11 years younger than me, and I was the 11th of 12.
2. I fell off some stairs and lit on my head on a concrete floor when I was 4, and cracked my skull.
3. I visited a chiropractor in my late 30s, and he found a knot in my backbone that he said "had been there for a long time, probably from when you were a little boy."
4. In our Evangelical Free Church where I grew up, we had a pastor who preached thru Jeremiah for a couple years. But I never remembered, my older brother told me last year...
5. I was given a choice in grade one; right-handed or left-handed?... a week after I had a cast removed from my right arm. I am left-handed.
6. I remember the song leader asking for favorites week after week when I was a boy in the EFree. We had some strange songs in our hymnal, and strange tastes in our pews...
7. Rolf Harris had a large impact on how I make kids songs.
8. I tried to write my first song at 13, but it was stupid. I don't think I had an organised thought in my head till I was 15.
9. On Saturday nights, we used to eat fresh bread, corn, and baked beans my mother made, have a cup of tea, and watch Hockey Night In Canada.
10. I always eat my brown and yellow smarties together, and last. I love those colors together!
11. I used to play chess a lot.
12. My parents worried about me as a teenager, about how I would survive in the world. "He can play guitar, and play chess, but he can't even fix his own car!"
13. I looked after the farm by myself when I was 14, for weeks at a time, while my parents were out breaking land to make a living.
14. I learned a life lesson about where my future would lie, when I was feeding the horses outside in
-55 weather. "Not here, Jamie, develop your music..."
15. I counted 29 moose one winter morning, on the way to church. They never arrived...
16. The first time I ever rode a horse, I got bucked off, into the knee-deep-in-mud-and-stuff
17. I caught a weasel with my bare hands when I was 11.
18. I was charged by an irate Hereford cow, out in the middle of the field, at about 20 paces. I am still alive, because God's angels know how to deal with irate Hereford cows.
19. I used to listen to 8-tracks of Kris Kristopherson, while bombing about the backwoods with my brother Bill in his black 1964 4x4 International pickup.
20. From grade 4 through grade 12, we had no running water or indoor plumbing. I grew to hate snowsuits.
21. I fell through the ice on Williston Lake when I was 10, and I couldn't swim. My brother Bill borrowed my brother Dave's crutch, lay down on the ice, and fished me out. Right above the turbines on the dam.
22. I read encyclopedias for fun when I was a kid. I could have told you every country in the world, it's capital, it's population, etc. 1963 World Book set my father had.
23. I was swept away down the flooding Sukunka River when I was 8, in a 14 foot fiberglass canoe, with 4 of my siblings. No life jackets, no swimmers... Another day on the way to school...
24. I rode a runner sled for a solid mile without having to put a foot on the ground, when I was 8.
25. I won the band award in grade 12, playing the baritone horn.