John’s Positive Pipe Organ

My father grew up in the Netherlands, and as a young boy was impressed by the pipe organ he heard in church. That impression never left him. Organs became his hobby, and my childhood was full of organ music.

I remember Dad reading the Diapason magazine, studying it, really, as my brothers played with Lego around his feet.

He taught me to play chess, while pipe organs from Europe played from vinyl records. A lot of times, it was Johann Sebastian Bach.

Apparently, I was the referee before I even learned how to play the game. Dad is on the left. Sunday afternoon was the only time Dad had for chess games, and most likely there was organ music playing.

I would come home from a stressful day in high school, and Dad would be home from work, alone, eating his jam sandwich, with pipe organ music belting out of the stereo. I didn’t necessarily smile, but he sure did. I liked it. It was such a switch from the day-to-day grind of teenage hormones and insecurities. It meant home.

Often times, Dad would wake us up on weekends with his playing.

Along the way, I attended pipe organ concerts along the French  or the South Shores of Nova Scotia.

One of the most remarkable feats was when he acquired a complete pipe organ that was sitting abandoned in someone’s barn. It came to us in thousands of pieces, like a giant 3-D jigsaw puzzle. Dad patiently reconstructed it all, even making way for its soaring soft pipes by cutting into the empty barn loft of our century barn. He eventually sold it, and it is now in someone’s home.

He built a clavichord, a pretty little instrument. Again, a pretty neat accomplishment.

And his latest feat was the building of a small, living-room size pipe organ. It is entirely, painstakingly, built from wood, pipes and all. Some of it recycled wood, and all of it carefully chosen.

The organ is showcased here, in a 10 minute interview, via the link below. Take a look!



I am an unusual parent. I like mud. Okay, I don’t like it on the kitchen floor, but I really do love the sight of the squishy, gooey stuff made by leftover puddles. Maybe it’s the latent biologist in me…

I love seeing children’s brightly coloured boots and chubby fingers exploring the wonderful texture. I love the earthy scent that reminds me that green things will soon be growing.

Mud speaks to me of movement, of change, of growth and of moving forward.

I grew up near the majestic Bay of Fundy. In places along the Minas Basin, there are vast mudflats which are exposed at low tide. In our teens, we would have great fun messing around and getting dirty in it. The mud would stick to everything. It would stain our clothes.

It wasn’t until much later, as an adult, that I learned Fundy’s mud is teeming with life. Species of life there can withstand the cold, deep, salty churning of high tide, and the dehydration, sunshine and exposure of¬† low tide. Every year more than 2,000,000 birds feed in the mud. The biological diversity is mind-boggling, precious, and fragile. (One web page to check out is: Fundy mud deserves respect!

Mud, for all it’s negative connotations- who wants to have their name “drug through the mud”- is actually a sign of life. A sign of hope. A blessing in disguise. For the ingredients that make mud- earth, water, warmth- are the very things we need for life. I, for one, give thanks for mud!

Clam Dig in the Bay of Fundy. I am the little person in the photo. My dad is trying to keep my white pants clean, I think! Notice how the mud stretches to the horizon...