Encouraging Words

Thanks to all loyal Crux customers who have stopped in this week to support us. Your words and actions mean a lot to us. This morning, one of our regular customers — and friend to many on staff — Rev. Rachel posted a reflection on her blog connecting Pentecost and Crux. Here’s our favourite paragraph:

Crux provides a vital source of theological depth in our city. Perhaps even more importantly — it is staffed by committed people of faith who believe that what they do is a ministry to our spiritual community (several of them are personal friends). If you’ve always thought about investing in your spiritual library, now is the time to do it! Take a walk down Hoskin Avenue and check out some titles and authors you’ve always wanted to explore. Support this wonderful independent store, and keep them going through the summer months. Let us be the body of Christ we celebrate in the coming of the Holy Spirit and minister to one another.

Thanks Rachel!


Famous Authors Who Don’t Sell At Crux

Crux is a theological bookstore, which has served the Toronto School of Theology for years. The number of Christian bookstores in downtown Toronto has been shrinking for many years, and we are the last ones standing. We have lots of new customers coming into the store all the time. Sometimes new customers are surprised by what we do and do not carry. Like most bookstores, we order books based on our experience of what sells. Here are two lists for you to consider — 8 authors who do not sell at Crux, and 8 authors who sell very well at Crux. We draw no conclusions, but you can, if you’d like.

Eight Authors Who Do NOT Sell Well at Crux (alphabetically listed):

  1. Billy Graham
  2. Tim LaHaye
  3. Beverly Lewis
  4. Anne Graham Lotz
  5. Max Lucado
  6. Martin Luther
  7. Joyce Meyer
  8. Tullian Tchividjian

Eight Authors Who Sell Very Well Indeed at Crux (alphabetically again):

  1. G.K. Chesterton
  2. Pope Francis I
  3. Tim Keller
  4. C.S. Lewis
  5. Henri Nouwen
  6. J.I. Packer
  7. John R.W. Stott
  8. N.T. Wright


More thoughts on Christmas Music

Crux staff have had a few discussions about Christmas music in the store in the past couple of days. Connor and Carolyn don’t have any specific non-favourites, but they are both against versions of well-known songs that they deem to be “over the top.” The example that I suggested to both of them was “O Holy Night” — a beautiful carol if well done, but difficult to do well. Yes, they agreed, that is a good example.

Andrew wishes we could put together our own Christmas mix. He’d include “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the two Christmas albums Sufjan Stevens has recorded. Sheila never wants to hear “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” again. Pam is happy to be at home with a new baby instead of in the store counting the number of times “The 12 days of Christmas” is played in one day. And I’ve had enough of “Santa Baby” for this year.

Christmas Listening

Here at Crux we have the holiday satellite stations on during December. Sheila likes the Holiday Pops station, particularly instrumental versions of Christmas carols, the songs with Christian meaning. She also likes choruses and arias from The Messiah. Heather also likes the Holiday Pops station, particularly the choral renditions of those carols Sheila likes.

It is only the ninth of December, so no one has a particular song that they’ve heard just a little bit too often this season yet — though, “Santa Baby” has been on far too often today. We’ll see which one emerges as this year’s over-played song.

Heritage Canoe Project: Day 16

Day 16 arrived, and I was really looking forward to finally finishing this project that I started late July.  This was the final work day, and Roger had scheduled about 2 hours to finish.  The canoe was dutifully waiting inside the workshop.

Final assembly was the name of the game today, so the first job was to attach the keel and brass stem plates.  Shortly into my first task, I really had to ask myself why I was drilling holes right through the bottom of a perfectly waterproof canoe.

1 drill a hole

1 add a screwI knew the answer, of course, but it still didn’t feel right.  Oh well, at least the canoe doctor was there.  After numerous holes were drilled, the canoe was flipped and the position of the keel carefully marked on the bottom of the canoe.  With Roger working underneath, while I carefully positioned the keel it was screwed into place.  Next, the brass stem strips were bent to fit, and also screwed in place after pre-drilling the holes.  I chose to have the brass strips minimally showing on the decks, as I really want to highlight the beautiful finish of the mahogany.  When all was screwed in place, and looking great, what did we do then?  Take it all apart of course.  This was necessary, I assure you, since (as you remember) some crazy person (that would be me) had drilled holes which created a now non-waterproof canoe.  But not to worry, there is a method to this madness.  What we did now was to make small putty ‘doughnuts’ and place them over every hole that now existed in the bottom of the canoe.

3 waterproof holesThen the keel and brass stems were re-attached.  As Roger explained, it wasn’t necessary to waterproof the entire keel against the hull… just the holes.  How very logical.  I must confess, however, that I made one slight mistake along the way.  In the final stage of attaching a brass stem plate to the keel, Roger had said to use a 1/2″ screw.  For whatever reason I though he said to use a 1″ screw.  As I was merrily tightening it in place, I realized I had now just cleared the keel and was putting another (unplanned) hole in the canvas, with no putty doughnut in place.  I continue to be impressed with Roger.  Rather than even look disappointed, which would have been the least I would have done, Roger merely shrugged his shoulders and came up with a solution.  As he pushed a putty ‘worm’ into the hole, he explained that when the screw goes into place it will push the putty into the hole below it and seal any area that might allow water to penetrate.  Again… logical, effective and without judgement on my poor listening skills.

4 add keele (the reason for the holesAfter the keel and plates were secured, and the excess putty removed, the canoe was flipped right side up for the final installs.  Using a large body clamp I placed the thwarts and seats into position.  For the thwarts, I decided to use the small brass plates that had originally been secured them to the outside hull.  Since we had added the inner gunwales, we had already decided the thwarts would be more stable secured to them.  So I used the brass plates on the top of the gunwales, securing the thwarts with two screws in each location.

5. the last screwThe plates add a great finished look to the canoe.  The final act was to secure the seats to their holders with screws, again adding more stability to the canoe.  And that was it.  After about three hours of day 16 work, my canoe was now totally completed.

6. FINISHEDAfter securing the canoe to the top of my sister’s SUV, it was time to say my sad goodbyes to Roger and Chaucer.  This has been an amazing experience.  I not only took away an incredibly beautiful canoe, but also lots of new skills.  I also took away an appreciation for just how much work, time, and care go into giving a canoe a second life.  Stayed tuned for Launch Day, coming up soon!

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Heritage Canoe Project: Day 15

Day 15th arrived faster than I thought, and consisted of about 2 hours of work only.  Arriving late afternoon, my canoe was already waiting under the canopy, as it looked like rain was on the horizon.  Today’s work?  Yet another, but thankfully the last, coat of varnish  for the gunwales, decks, seats and thwarts.  (I know the pictures look pretty much the same as the last two days, but I assure you that progress is being made.)

deck pre final varnishdeck post final varnish

This time I took it really easy on the sanding, particularly of the decks.  The last time I sanded too aggressively and ended up taking off too much varnish.  After sanding came the regular blowing (and brushing) off the dust followed by tack clothing.  Then the final full strength application of varnish.  As opposed to day 14, when several things went wrong, I was careful to take my time and even did the seats and thwarts inside to avoid dropping anything in the grass.  Thankfully the wasps were not numerous today, so I didn’t get varnish any place other than on the canoe.  I made sure the final coat was fully applied and fairly thick going on, but even when finished the decks were still sucking in the varnish… talk about thirsty.  Roger said he would check them in a day, or so, and apply another coat if needed.

Ed varnishes gunwales

I then scheduled my final visit, again in another week’s time, as this project is quickly coming to an end.  Roger said the last day will be about 2 hours of work.  What is left is the installation of the external keel, and the securing of the thwarts and seats into the canoe.  Yippee!! Looks like it may be in the water before Thanksgiving after all.

end of day dryingThe last thing of the day was for Roger to run a tally of his time and materials, to arrive at the final bill.  Wow!! This canoe project has indeed been a big job, as evidenced by the tally.  I am very thankful that Roger, recognizing this as a challenging and difficult job, gave me a good discount.  On behalf of myself, and my bank account, I thanked him profusely.  I’m already looking forward to a great day 16, when the canoe will indeed be finished. That old camping canoe song ‘Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver…’ has already been repeating in my head. Where’s the closest lake from here?

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Heritage Canoe Project: Day 14

Day 14 arrives… now I really have spent 2 entire weeks on this project, and it is almost finished.  But today was an odd, and not so much a fun day.  Today felt more like day 13 should have, that’s if I really believed that number 13 means bad luck.

Before I got to Roger’s place I wondered if my canoe originally had external wood stems as well as the keel.  So day 14 started with a difficult conversation.  Roger said the canoe originally had external stems, evidenced by a visit to the junk bin of spare pieces I had brought on day 1.  The pieces he showed me were badly broken so it was difficult, to nearly impossible, to see what they had originally looked like.  Since I still don’t know who the original builder was, and therefore don’t have any drawings, I was doubly in the dark.

broken piecesRoger explained that external stems did nothing functional, so builders haven’t added them for a long time.  Sensed my disappointment he offered to make some if I really wanted them… stressing, however, the time (and therefore extra cost) for no real functionality.  He also reminded me that, although we had used as much of the original parts as we could, the canoe was already not historically rebuilt.  The added inner gunwale, along with the epoxy filled holes would drive historical canoe fanatics crazy.  I did, after all, want to actually use the canoe rather than mount it on my living room wall.  So I spent the next quarter-hour thinking about my options, while I sanded the parts before the next varnish.  By then, although still conflicted, I decided to forgo the external stems.  After all, I first need to find the original builder and plans before even trying to fabricate what they looked like.  I can always add them in a later year.

sand the deckSince it was a sunny day I did the second, and full strength, varnish outside.  This helped showing the results of my work, and any missed sections. Soon after I started, however, I kept getting bothered by mosquitos and a lot of wasps that seemed to like the varnish smell.  Before I finished I had successfully managed to spill the varnish on my hand while escaping from a pesky wasp, as well as varnishing the hair on the back of my head trying to swat one away.  (I told you it was not a fun day).  To round off my day, one of my freshly varnished thwarts fell in the grass resulting in me trying to pick grass and dirt out of the varnish.  Not much fun.

second varnish on the deckStill, the finished product did look great, particularly the mahogany decks that had dried lighter overnight and were again thirsty today.  Only one more varnish coat to go, but that will have to wait another week.  Taking some final pics of my beautiful canoe I prepared to depart.

grain of varnished deckBefore I left, another canoe came in for repairs.  This one looked like it had just come from the set of a horror film.  Along with badly rotted gunwales, the red hull looked like it actually had veins.  It was wrinkled, discoloured, and bulging in many places.  I did a second check to make sure the owner wasn’t Vincent Price, Freddy Krueger, or possibly Herman Munster.  (I told you it was an odd day)  A challenging job for Roger, but I’m sure something he’s seen before, but I’m sure I haven’t.  Day 15 coming in a week.

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