Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A Good Place

I love the Port Moody Library. I was there with my daughter last night. Besides getting some great books we were helped to find materials not in the collection. My daughter wants to read a The Misfits by James Howe. We listened to the story on CD when we were on vacation this summer, so now she wants the book. The librarian arranged an inter-library loan. When the book gets to our branch she'll receive a call and can go borrow it with her Port Moody card. I want to see the video Slam Nation by Paul Devlin. The librarian filled out a purchase request and said he thought they would agree to buy it for the library. I also dropped off a signed contract for the workshop that Shoreline Writers' Society will offer in October. We're putting on a free beginner afternoon workshop called Just Write at the library on Saturday, October 2nd, 1:30-4:30pm. We hope to get some people who have been wanting to start writing or get more involved in writing, and maybe attract some new members to our group.

I returned The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It was awesome. Seven day express loan was no problem for me. What a great book. I cried at the end. But I cry at the end of Candian Living, the Vancouver Sun and instructions for cooking raman noodles, so don't take that as an indicator. Seriously, it was fantastic. Now I'm reading The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster. It's a novel about a college professor who loses his family, then discovers the work of a little known silent movie actor and writes a book about him. I have 3 weeks with this one, but I think I'll gobble it up too. One more week before the kids go back to school. I might as well gorge on reading while I have time!

Breakfast is ready, the house is quiet, I have a good book. What am I doing sitting at the computer?

Today's question: Do you have a time of day when you get up early or stay up late or otherwise steal a moment to do what you want to do?

mompoet - delightfully off-kilter but it is 6:30am

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Writing Despite or Because of

things you grow or
pick in the woods or just buy
cheap and good at farmers market washed
fresh in august perfection crimson
salty onions sharp
handled carrots and cunning
unbelievable real

That's the beginning of a poem I wrote on Thursday night when I was feeling overwhelmed with sadness and frustration. I get that way only a few times a year, being a mostly optimistic person, talented at finding the bright side of just about anything. On Thursday I felt as blue as a moldy potato and grumpy as a speed bump. Grandma dying, the kids bickering, my husband having a stressful time at work and the pressures of the school year schedule looming made me want to sit in a corner and cry. Instead I sat down and wrote. It's turning out to be quite a cool poem, now a page and a half long, and needing much revision. The initial impulse and the sound-feeling came from the desperate, depressed, sorry for myself mood of that evening. I'm glad that misery is not my usual muse, but once in a while, it works just fine.

Question for the day: Are you creative when you feel sad?

mompoet - squeezing the dregs of a tortured soul moment

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Chapbook Number 5

Last night I went out to Whonnock - about 40 minutes East of Port Moody, real country living out there - with the Shoreline Writers publication group. Shoreline Writers' Society is our local writers group. The publication group is a sub-group that produces a chapbook each year. We met to plan our fifth, tentatively titled The Road to Hell. Looks like we will have 4 short stories, the prologue to a novel, and some poetry. We'll edit each other's work through the Fall and have the manuscript ready by the beginning of November. Books should come back from the printer beginning of December. I love meeting with this group to work on our project together. We collaborate to bring the best out in each other's writing, and to produce a book of very good work. We also have wonderful suppers together and great conversation.

I am struggling with how to put one of my slam poems into the book this time. Slam poetry is meant to be performed, so doesn't always hold up on the page the same as poetry that is created to be received primarily in written form. I believe that all poetry is as much about sound as it is about meaning - in fact you can't separate the two, that's what makes it poetry. But slam poems are especially hard to present to someone reading in his or her head. I will go back to my Slam Poetry book and chapbooks and also ask my friends from the Vancouver Poetry Slam how they address this problem. I'm sure there's an way to do it.

I'm coming out of my sadness about Grandma. The family will meet for a supper this Thursday to remember her and read some of the stories she wrote about her life. There's still a fair amount of stress in the house, though with both children heading to new schools in one week, and my husband's work schedule going bonkers with new projects and some staff leaving the company. I am trying to help everyone find positive alternatives to bitching, yelling and groaning.

mompoet - a rock when you need one

ps Question of the day: Any ideas about the slam poetry on the page problem?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Canning Night

things you grow or
pick in the woods or just buy
cheap and good at farmers market washed
fresh in august perfection crimson
salty onions sharp
handled carrots and cunning
unbelievably real
all of these
things pretend to
last forever on
canning night they whisper
oh we are good and pure and you wear virtue's wings but
don't listen to the
of lids as jars
cool it's much more
obvious than all

copyright mompoet 2004

mompoet - blue and clear-seeing on Friday morning

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Helen Kloppenburg

My grandmother, Helen Kloppenburg, died around midnight Tuesday, just one month short of her one hundred-first birthday.

I will miss her very much.

mompoet - sad and remembering

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


The ice cream was yummy (pistachio gelato at Casa Dolce at Newport Village). But the library was even better.

I picked up the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, by Mark Haddon. The story is told by a 15 year-old boy who has autism. He finds the neighbour's dog dead, is suspected of killing the dog, and sets out to solve the mystery. Christopher, the main character, understands the world very differently from the typical way. I especially like that he loves prime numbers. In fact, he numbers his chapters only with primes. This was especially sweet for me, having just published my mini-rant about being only prime numbers for the rest of my birthdays. ahhhhh.

Question for today: What are you reading? How are the chapters divided?

mompoet - jumping out of my chair to wake up 14 year-old so we can go to the gym together before I have to start work

Monday, August 23, 2004

Mathematician's Daughter

I will
mismatch wrong coloured lids to all my tupperware bowls
leave the lid off the dry-erasable marker
put tin cans in the recycling without flattening them first
dye my hair grey 'cause I like it that way
go to the gym to get bigger - dammit!
put up my hand whenever somebody asks,
"any questions?"
especially if they don't mean it
and lie about my age.
I'm really forty-two, you see
but I prefer prime numbers so I say I'm forty-three.

from Venus in Transit copyright mompoet 2004

I have decided that I will be only prime numbers from now on. On my birthday I will turn 43 (really). One year later I will be 43 again, then 43, then 43, then 47. After that each year I will be 47, 47, 47, 47, 47, then 53. I'm just going to skip all the numbers that aren't prime numbers because I like prime numbers best. I think I like them because they are asymmetrical. Okay, I know it's weird, but I think of numbers like they are people who have personalities. My favourite people have asymmetrical personalities. I do like squares and cubes of primes too, much not as much as the real primes. So 27 is okay (3X3X3) but numbers like 5, 7, 11, 13, 47, they are magnificent.
I am not a mathematician, but my father is. So maybe it's his fault. I know he will like that I said that.

Question for today: Do you have a strange preference for something that other people just don't get?

mompoet - going out with my 11 year old to eat lopsided ice cream cones and visit the library where I will take out 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, or 11 books

Sunday, August 22, 2004

I Saw the Bear!

I saw it! I saw it!

Last summer/fall, and again this summer, black bears have come into our neighbourhood, looking for food. Last fall two bears were shot by conservation (?) officers. The story is that by the time the bears are hanging out in a neighbourhood they are habituated to living with people and surviving on trash and other foraged food, and even if you relocate them to the middle of nowhere they'll find their way back to the nearest town and start again. I wonder if this is based on conjecture or anecdotal evidence or actually studied and documented?

Anyway, my neighbours had seen them, but I'd missed them so far. But tonight about 9pm I took the dog out for a walk. It was just dusky as we headed up the "fire road" a road with woods on one side and bush on another. Ambling along up ahead was about 400 pounds of bigger-than-a-dog-but-not-like-the-ones-at-the-zoo. I don't think he saw or smelled us because he just kept ambling. I stopped and watched long enough to be sure of what I was seeing. Ursa plunged down the slope into the bushes above our top row of townhomes, and dog and I turned around. We walked up our street, which runs parallel to the fire road and the bushy strip where the bear was hanging out. I talked to some kids who were out on their bikes, then knocked on their parents' doors to tell them about it, when the kids acted reluctant to take their bikes home and go inside. (Told you I'm a mom.) When we got to the gap in the houses where the woods meet our road, the dog got all excited and wanted to take me up into the bush. I declined and we headed home.

I feel sad for this little bear. His prospects aren't good if he keeps showing up around here. I'm also going to make sure the kids come in from their evening "capture the flag with walkie-talkies" game before dusk from now on. Aside from that, all we can do is make sure not to leave anything edible out to attract the bears, I guess.

I also feel excited. Last time I actually saw a bear out loose I was 4 years old in Yellowstone Park. It's kind of encouraging to know that big wild things are still here, close to home. Now if only we can convince them to stay on the mountain. Oooops. They're building a "Univer-City" on the mountain with hundreds of homes and amenities. Wonder if that's part of the problem?

Another question for today: Where would you go if you were a bear, stuck between a townhouse complex at the lower edge and construction cranes at the upper edge of your habitat?

mompoet - jazzed for sure, trying to settle down now and get some rest before workday tomorrow

These are Good

Rhubarb Pecan Muffins - from the Vancouver Sun Newspaper a few years back

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp grated orange rind
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/4 cups fresh rhubarb

Heat oven to 350

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet (including the rhubarb) in another. Combine and spoon into a greased and floured muffin pan. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins

I double the recipe whenever I make it and it works just fine. I freeze 12 for quick breakfasts and snacks during the week. During the summer, my kids are still sleeping when I leave for work, so some yummy and accessible food helps them remember to eat breakfast.

Question of the day: (okay, second question of the day) Do you bake? What's your favourite? Do you think rhubarb is edible or that rhubarb-eaters are just weird?

mompoet - about to change out of church clothes into sneakers and sweats and take the dog for a long Sunday afternoon walk

Cleaning vs Reading

I clean my house every three weeks, whether it needs it or not!

Well, some things get done more often than that, but vacumming, floors and really cleaning the bathrooms (with a bucket and including the tub) just wait. Bathrooms get a quick wipe with a disinfectant towelette in between so they don't get hideous. Of course we load the dishes and also change the kitty litter and empty the wastebaskets. But "everyone get out of the way, Mom's cleaning" has worked itself out to every three weeks.

Why? There's so much to read of course! And write and craft and do with my husband and kids.

When I'm a little old lady in my final days, I will not say, "Thank goodness my kitchen floor was never sticky and you could eat off my toilet." I will say, "Wow!! we had fun, didn't we?"

Life's too short. So this morning my kitchen is clean, because the last time it was clean was August 7 for my daughter's birthday party (yikes, that was only 2 weeks ago - I need to slow down!) and I am going to read my book, NOT clean some more.

Today's question: Is there a critical point of house clean or tidy where our creativity and enjoyment of life is maximized? I mean, if it was cleaner, we'd be wasting too much time cleaning, but if it was messier, we would be so disgusted and disorganized that we couldn't function? What are the hallmarks of that optimal situation? Or does it matter to you at all?

mompoet - perched on the fulcrum between domestic goddess and lover of life

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Why I love words

I wrote this while I was waiting to meet my friend Louise for a walk around the lake.

Her name was Gale, like a big wind.
His was Brian, like a brain with its vowels transposed.
They lived in Saint Johns with no apostrophe
Which lent the place a certain ambiguity
Especially during Lent.
She was a facilitator who specialized in liaising, networking and conferencing
And killing good words.
He was in signage, with a specialty in logos.
They never argued because they couldn't understand each other.
Theirs was a typical marriage:
She was the breadwinner; he was a bored weiner.
They had twins: Max, Minnie and Gerard,
Who attended middle school in the middle of their middle class town in middle America.
Their home was in the third and fourth layers
Of a strata complex
Which was actually very simple.
Their favourite hobbies were prime numbers, prime rib and primetime television
Which they watched only if filmed before a live audience
Because dead audiences were just too gross.
One hundred forty-four days later they died.
Nobody missed them.

My mom just emailed me to remind me that I am a mother and a wife, and that the latter will resume greater significance later in my life. I thought it was kind of cool that I wrote this story pretty much similtaneously.

Good stuff: The PNE opens today. It's really fun. I heard on CBC Radio's Almanac Show that they expect 1 million people to attend. We might go tomorrow (today it's raining cats and dogs).

Question for today: Does being a mom change your attitude toward being a wife?

That's all for now.

mompoet - sipping Costco coffee and returning to a long slow crawl through the Saturday paper in avoidance of the vacuum cleaner, kitty litter and 7 baskets of unfolded laundry.

PS - I know I should buy the coffee at the local coffee shop. I usually do. I will next time.

Friday, August 20, 2004


I tried posting a photo by cutting and pasting but it didn't work. I can see it on my computer when I read the blog, but my friends can't, so I'll have to keep trying.

So I'm working through the goal of learning how to use blog technology. I will now try to post a link, then I'll consider myself technologically able and get on with actual content. Here goes:

I'm reading Kenneth Koch's Making Our Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry.

It's easy to read and full of good insights into the language of poetry. The first half of the book describes poetry as a language of its own, distinct from conversation or prose. The second half is a collection of poems with short helpful comments. Instead of dissecting poems, this book shines a light on how they are written, and how they work intellectually, aesthetically and emotionally. I recommend it.

I don't necessarily recommend buying it on Amazon or at Chapters or Indigo. I use their websites to find books, read reviews, get ISBN numbers etc., then I take the information to my local independently owned bookstore and ask the owner to get me the book.

It's getting harder to find an independent bookstore these days but it's worth it. In Port Moody we had a new/used bookseller who had to close. Now we have a used and antique book store

Jolly Olde Bookstore

The only way stores like this can keep going is for thoughtful people to buy books from them and resist the lure of the Raptor.

That's enough lecture/rant. Here's my question for today:

Do you have an independent bookstore where you live? Have you struggled to stay away from the big book supermarket? Where do you buy your books?

mompoet - posting with 72% of the BOS (brain operating system) figuring out what to make for supper with 24% (4% currently unaccounted for)

Still Trying to Post Pictures

I've been trying to get BloggerBot to work for a day or two, but I keep getting a "This page cannot be displayed" message partway through. So I copied a photo, pasted it into MS word, then copied it again and pasted it into my post. It didn't work.

mompoet - vowing to continue stretching my creative logic to find way to realise intentions

Thursday, August 19, 2004

What it will be

I was walking the dog (will post a photo once I figure out how) and I figured out that my online journal should include the things that are in the title: MOMPOET Word from the 'Burbs. So my posts will be about or include:
  • Mom stuff
  • Poetry
  • Life in the Suburbs (specifically Port Moody British Columbia)
Especially anything that combines one or more of these elements, like being a mom and writing poetry or the cultural scene in a suburban community.

Okay, so I have that part figured out - what it will be about. I think the voice part will come around on its own. In the meantime my next thing is to figure out how to post photos. I want images for sure - photos and some of my collages. This will be fun.

Question for Today: Do you juggle work/family and a creative life? Share an anecdote, tell if it's easy or difficult. What works for you?

Talk to you soon,

mompoet - spiralling toward the happy singing pillow upstairs, but first have to help 14 year old son with orthodontic dental care

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Hello Out There

Well, Here I go with my first post in my first blog. I've been reading other people's blogs for the past few weeks and really enjoying it, so I thought, "Why not make my own?" I know for sure it will be interesting to me, and maybe to people who read it. But first I have to:
  • Find a theme
  • Get a voice (well, I have that already - but a blog voice I mean)
  • Learn how to do things like add links, pictures, surveys etc.
  • Make sure it's interactive
I have a lot to learn, and I think I'm going to have a lot of fun.

So here's my first question for anyone reading this...

Do you have a blog? What are your suggestions for my blog? Please send me your url and I'll have a look, then maybe I'll get some ideas for my blog, so it can quit being a blog about a blog and start being a blog about something.

'night for now

Mompoet - cooling off in my kitchen and thinking about wrrrrdddds.