Monday, January 31, 2005

How much pumpkin is too much?

I painted the kitchen twice this weekend. The first time it was just too bright, so I went back to the paint store and bought a shade lighter and did it all over again. This weekend our kitchen has received a thorough scrub-down (mighty unusual!) and 5 - count 'em 5 - coats of paint. After the too-bright shade I figured I'd better primer again or I'd have trouble covering with the lighter shade.

We have gone from dirty-gummy blah-white to eye-popping fresh pumpkin to either peach or pumpkin chiffon, depending on the light. It's bright and intense and goes well beside the terra cotta in the dining room, hallway and living room. Good thing I like painting. Tonight we'll put the stove back. The fridge will return to its cranny when we get a crazy strong man to come help us.

Question: Can a room get smaller from successive coats of paint?

mompoet - orange and less-orange finger-nailed

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Happy Birthday mmmmMikaela!

I left the house of fever and grout for a few hours Friday evening. Went over to my friend's house. We'll call her Mikaela (she has asked that her real name not be used). We were joined by our good friend Kkkkk-Katya. Yup, we'll call her Katya. We three have birthday suppers together, usually at Casa Mikaela. This time it's Mikaela's birthday. She turns 44 first and sets the pace for Katya and me. Katya's birthday is in May, mine in November. (That is not a clue). By the way, if you're getting into this pseudonym thing you may call me ssss-Sabrina.

Anyway, we had some wine. Warning. You could put your head inside of one of Mikaela's wine glasses. So we have to be careful. We cooked supper together, which we like to do. Katya made yummy appies while Mikaela set up her thrift shop find: a real Vietnamese broth fondue cooker. It looks kind of like an angel food cake pan with extra pieces. You burn charcoal in a chamber in the middle, which heats broth to boiling with amazing speed. We cooked a bunch of different things in the broth: chicken, vietnamese meatballs, bbq duck and pork, tofu, and a whole bunch of veggies. We sat around and talked and stirred and ate and added more food, like you do with fondue. At the end we cooked shanghai noodles and had the soup with noodles. It was good. I made a peach crisp for dessert. We managed the mega-glasses fine too. Just 1.5 bottles of wine all night for three women.

I gave Mikaela Damien Rice O, which she doesn't have already (good!) Katya gave her an amazing metal-sculpture planter. Part of the tradition is that the birthday woman gives presents too. Mikaela gave us chenille socks, which are very cozy. We wore them right away. Also, she bought false eyelashes. So after supper we turned up the lights and sat at the table, trying to put on these eyelashes. Katya got a really fluffy pair. She was also very good at putting them on. She had watched her mom do it many times. You have to put this glue on them and carefully squeeze them onto your eyelid just abover your real lashes. Katya had a magnifying compact mirror and a steady hand. She looked very fluffy and dramatic, like Barbie. Then Mikaela put hers on. She got into it, which is very funny because she hardly ever wears makeup. She tried to use this awful "applicator" that came with the lashes, but looked more like something for plucking a chicken than getting up close to your eyeball. She got her lashes on and proceeded to do full makeup to find out what the whole effect would be. I had no mirror so I waited and stuck my lashes onto my wineglass and my forehead and my chin and upper lip for practice and basically laughed my head off for a long time while they worked at their beauty. My turn. I was awful at it. I looked like I just woke up, way too much, and you could see the gap between the fakes and my real lashes but I left them on to be a good sport. Then the glue started to dry and it felt horrible as it shrank like when you paint your face with watercolours and it starts to dry and crack. I put on my glasses and the lashes went bang bang bang like a moth trying to escape. Mikaela insisted we take them home and practice. I took mine home. I don't plan to practice. Once is enough.

Mikaela always wants us to try something that we have not done before. I think the eyelashes were pretty good. I think I'll probably get more use out of the socks, though.

question: how much glue can a lashline endure?

mompoet - natural-lashed

Friday, January 28, 2005


Q. What's warm and crunchy in the morning?
A. My nose.

Ewww yuk. Pass the tissues. Staying home from work today to prep painting and help with the last days of studying.

Question: no more (thank goodness)

mompoet - washing my face

Thursday, January 27, 2005

I Grout a Little

Husband is now really sick. Kids are on the mend. Rhinos are still running in my nose, but I am functional. Tom came over to grout. Andy couldn't do it (putting your head down to floor level when you have a fever and a headache and a stuffed nose is not recommended). So I helped grout. Mostly I hauled buckets of water and washed sponges, but I got to smear the brown stuff around too. I didn't realise that's how it's done. You plop this pumpkin pie/clay consistency stuff onto the tiles and smear it diagonally, pushing it down in to fill the gaps. Honest it is like spreading odourless shit all over your floor, which is actually kind of fun. You try to keep smearing and pushing it into the cracks so as to leave a minimum on top of the tiles and maximize the crack-filling. When you're done you wipe and wipe and wipe to take the residue off the tiles. Now the floor looks good. Tom said I shouldn't have told him what I thought it looked like because he never thought of that. Oh well, he doesn't have kids. Grouting is honestly every 2 year-old's potty dream.

Question: Does enjoying grouting have Freudian implications?

mompoet - expulsive, yeah!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

nose herd (a haichew)

rhinovirus herd
claw-hoofed nostril stampeding
nose drips rhino pee

question: chewww???

mompo-ssssnnnnbbblllttt-et - ka-ka-ka-ka (oh blast)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Sicky House

Daughter had a headache Friday night, which turned into a fever Saturday. She spent the weekend flat, watching videos, reading and feeling pretty sad. She was sick enough to stay home from school Monday. After 3 days with fever, I imposed a "recovery day" Tuesday. That means you stay home for one day after you feel better just to get your resources built up again, and just in case you're not really better yet. If you are bored on recovery day, then you are ready to go back to school the next day.

Meantime, son is watching his sister lie on the couch, be served apple juice, watch videos, get extra cuddles and miss school. He woke up Tuesday morning moaning and groaning, "I think I'm sick." I say "Yeah, okay. If you want a day at home that's okay. You've been working hard and you do have a bit of a cold. Just knock off the moaning and groaning." I go to give him a hug and sizzle! He's got a fever too. So he spent Tuesday lying around, justfiably moaning and groaning. Besides a headache and a fever he's having awful growing pains in his legs so he was uncomfortable lying still, but too yukky to get up and move around.

Daughter was definitely bored. Good. Turns out she was upset to miss a visit to her school by O.W.L. But I held firm to my recovery day rule, which she admitted was a good idea because she did slump a little in the afternoon. Good news is, the owl pellet dissection will take place on Thursday, so she didn't miss it, and that's the part she's really excited about. Yeah! Owl pellets.

Husband and I took shifts being here for the kids on Monday and Tuesday and also going to work. I came home Tuesday evening to find husband drywalling and also sniffling and coughing. He sat down to supper and announced he's getting a cold. I touched his head....sizzle. Oh no.

So now I wish I had bought shares in the company that makes ibuprofen because we are consuming mass quantities. My cold seems to be on the way out without dire effects (touch wood). Meantime, for everyone else here it's sicky house.

Question: starve a fever?

mompoet - not if the kid with the fever is 14, and growing in front of my eyes

Monday, January 24, 2005

fer what ails ye...

Sherrard's Hot Ginger Apple Juice

If you have a cold but you're soldiering on (or even if you're not) this is very good:

1 4-liter jug of fresh, unfiltered apple juice
some sliced fresh ginger
4 or 5 cinnamon sticks (you can use ground if you don't have the sticks)
glug glug glug of lemon juice

Heat this up almost to boiling in a big pot or kettle and let it brew for an hour. You can drink it through the day off the top of the stove, or pack it to work in a thermos, or refrigerate it and heat cups in the micro. It might not cure your cold, but you will feel warm and zippy.

Question: who hasn't got a cold right now?

mompoet - snuffling but zippy

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Path to Poetry Postponed to next Sunday

You didn't miss it after all!

The Path to Poetry workshop by Pandora's Collective has been postponed one week.

Sunday, January 30, 1-3pm
Port Moody Arts Centre
2425 St. Johns Street, Port Moody
$31.75 1 session
Call the Arts Centre at 604 931-2008 to register.

Question: where is your inner poet?

mompoet - encouraging suburban participation in literary arts

Floor Story

Tiles are laid in the kitchen. Everything from inside the kitchen is still out of the kitchen. We'll be on a camping trip inside our own house for the next few days until everything cures, grout goes in etc. Next weekend I'll paint the kitchen then we'll put the appliances back in and it will look really good. Andy and Tom worked Saturday from 8:30am - 9:30pm. The job was bigger than they thought. They had to rent this power-pryer to get the old lino up, but they made it. I just stood by and covered adjacent floors, hauled trash, went to Rona for more mud, picked up pizza, washed down the sides of the fridge and stove while they are out (oh my goodness YUKKK!) etc. It looks good already. It's going to be great.

Question: How many coats of paint would it take for a room to become measurably smaller than when it was originally built?

mompoet - going to find out (maybe)

happy anniversary solly-dog

Today is the 2 year anniversary of our family bringing home our dog, Soleil. It feels like she's been a member of our family forever. We had a party for her last year, invited some dog friends, got a liver cake from the dog bakery, sang "Happy anniversary," but I told the kids that was one time only. This year we're just remembering, and feeling that she is really, finally our dog in her own mind. Even last year, after a whole year with us, she acted unsure about her status here. She worried a lot and frequently checked to make sure we were here and she was part of things. It's taken a long time and lots of telling her, "Yes, we are going to keep you. Yes, we love you no matter what," for her to just relax and be one of us all the time. I think we have all learned from this. The kids get outside of themselves more when they are caring for her. She brings out the big daddy again in my husband, now that the kids don't need to be picked up or wrestled or chased around the house. She makes him play. And she makes me stop and notice "not sure." I'm fairly immune to ambivalence. I just keep on chugging ahead, and you're with me or you're not, and that's all okay. But with Solly, she'll follow even if she's really scared, so I have begun to learn to really look and listen to figure out if she's really okay. And if she's not, to try to figure out what's the problem, how to understand it, what to do. I don't think I'll ever be really good at it, but she has helped me with this.

Happy anniversary Sol. Thanks for coming to live with us. We're keeping you (just in case you were still wondering).

Question: How does your garden grow?

mompoet - listening

Friday, January 21, 2005


Tom came over last night and helped Andy get ready for a weekend project in our kitchen. They're going to do part 2 of the ceramic floor tile job. They pulled out the fridge, which has not been moved since we bought this house 13 years ago. Tom is a very good friend. You have to trust someone to let them see what we all saw last night. It was pretty horrible back there. Still, I can't see pulling the fridge out just to clean behind it periodically. The only time you know is when you move it. As long as we have a good friend like Tom, who still loves us even when he knows what's behind our fridge, and can help us when it comes time to replace it, I can live with it.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful husband has wired our internet into the living room and moved a computer out there. He understands that some of us (ahem) can't survive without constant email.

Tonight the stove will go into the dining room, where we can't plug it in, so we'll be microwaving and toaster-ovening for the next couple of days. Stove can go back on Monday, but fridge will stay in the dining room for a week. I'll paint the kitchen next weekend, then we'll put everything back together. We'll still have to do baseboards (buy, paint, cut, install) but nobody here is a perfectionist (thank goodness).

A friend was stressing about how her husband would be upset if their new car got a scratch or blemish. I am grateful to have a husband and kids who are even less concerned about tidy/clean/pristine than I am. Life's too short to worry about the inevitable impact of dust, dirt, and things that bump and scratch.

I will be happy to say goodbye to the old linoleum and have a fresh looking kitchen. Thank you thank you thank you, Andy and Tom, for getting around to this big and gunky job. It's going to be great.

Question: What's behind the stove?

mompoet - kitchen echoing

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

mompoet sound journal #4

Johnny Cash
Country Boy
Musicbank 2000
***** out of 5

When I talked to her about my listening project, my friend Irene Livingston told me, "I won't have any music that you'd like." So I said, "What about some Johnny Cash?" Irene has sung a few of her "old time favourites" (not Johnny Cash) to me in the car and on the phone. She has even written them into a couple of the poems that she performs at the Vancouver Poetry Slam. She loves music, how could I not ask her for help with my project? So Irene loaned me Johnny Cash.

Irene is a poet and writer. She's my #1 encourager - reads my poems and stories, helps me improve them, tells me she thinks I'm great. We email a lot, talk on the phone, and go out to the Vancouver Poetry Slam together. She is a precious friend. Irene told me that she can remember the first time she knew she liked country music. She was 10 years old, living in New Brunswick. Her family had gone out to the country but she had to stay at Grandma's because she was sick. She remembers hearing her teenage cousin Walter playing guitar outside of her bedroom door, "real wailin', train-whistle blowin' stuff," she says. It gave her goose-bumps. When Irene says something gives her goose-bumps that means it's really good. She loves country singers like George Jones and Paul Brandt and "Tex-Mex' singer Freddy Fender. Her real favourite is Willy Nelson. She also enjoys Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli and she loves Leonard Cohen.

My first memory of Johnny Cash is when I was 8 years old. Our neighbour got a new car with an 8-track tape player. I remember sitting in the car in the driveway with the daughter, also 8, listening to the tape. I remember her saying, "Don't touch the key or my dad won't let us listen." So we sat, surrounded by new car smell, feeling very special, listening to every word and marvelling at the picture of the man in black with the deep, serious-sounding voice. There were songs about love and prison and shooting a man. My curiosity about dark and dangerous stuff was definitely piqued. This guy seemed that way. But I didn't get another chance to hear any more Johnny Cash for a long time after that.

I guess I have mostly thought of Johnny Cash as "just some country guy with a super deep voice who sings-talks pretty corny songs." I was aware that he is tremendously popular, both in North America and Europe, but I didn't get it. Remember, I don't like country. But Irene had spoken several times about a video of Johnny Cash singing a song called "Hurt." She talked about how it moved her, so I thought I would like to know more about this singer and his music.

Country Boy is a compilation of Johnny Cash songs, including the (I think) first song he recorded, "Hey Porter." The iconic "I walk the Line" is on this CD, along with "Cry! Cry! Cry!" and "Folsom Prison Blues." Some things about it are really funny, like all of the syllables stuffed into one line of lyrics in "Train of Love,"

Every so often everybody's baby gets the urge to roam
But everybody's baby but mine's comin' home

My favourite song on the CD is "Mean Eyed Cat." It starts out like this:

I give my woman half my money at the general store
I said, "Now buy a little groceries, and don't spend no more."
But she gave ten dollars for a ten cent hat
And bought some store bought cat food for a mean eyed cat.

I listened to the Johnny Cash CD a few times and I liked it, despite myself, I thought. I couldn't figure out why. So I decided to take a break. Hmmmm what would I listen to now? Then I had a craving for Patsy Clyne (who I got interested in years ago when Beverly DiAngelo played Patsy in the Sissy Spaced movie, Coal Miner's Daughter and also when kd lang was the reincarnation of Patsy Clyne.) So I listened to Patsy Clyne. Hmmmm. Then I wanted to listen to the Beatles. Early Beatles songs, which I usually think are less interesting than later ones. Hmmmm. Maybe there was some logic in this. What did they have in common? I'm still trying to piece it all together, but I think what I like about Johnny Cash, Patsy Clyne and the Beatles is that they all have a real sound. Not phoney or flashy. Just singing like themselves, earnestly, and with intelligence and humour. Also a steady unswerving beat and very distinctive singing voices. My Mom says that the best actors aren't beautiful. They are interesting looking. Are the best singers not the ones who sing brilliantly, but those who have interesting and real voices that set them apart from the good-but-boring? Charisma and sex-appeal is definitely all tangled up in this too. How can you ignore any of these artists? They are full of yummy stuff for curious people to find out about.

So I did some internet looking about Johnny Cash and found out that he was a big fan of Bob Dylan and vice versa, which is really neat. Then I remembered that I picked up a Boy Dylan CD, Nashville Skyline from a remainder bin for really cheap before Christmas but I hadn't listened to it. So I found it and guess what - Johnny Cash was on the CD, singing with Bob Dylan. Now those are two very interesting voices, especially together! And on the back of the album cover there's a poem that Johnny Cash wrote about Bob Dylan. I was beginning to get a very different picture of this "man in black." Finally, I found "Hurt" on the internet and watched it and cried pretty much the way through.

I found out that Johnny Cash recorded covers of songs by contemporary singers later in his career. "Hurt" is one of those songs - originally recorded by a band called Nine Inch Nails (wonder if I'll listen to them on my sound journey?) I think I would like to listen to some of this music - compare it with the older, more traditional. So yup. I guess I like some country music. And I do like Johnny Cash.

Thanks Irene.

Question: Am I going to like everything just because I'm like that? Will somebody suggest something that I can just have fun hating?

mompoet - infatu-eared

the comic book study plan

Fourteen year old son is facing his first round of semester-end exams. He's averaging Bs right now in Science, Socials, Multimedia and CAPP. For most kids that would be good. For Alex it's over the moon wonderful. He is very intelligent, but significant learning disabilities make everything harder for him. Luckily, we keep falling into soft arms with him at schools: excellent principals, great learning resource teachers, and classroom teachers who see him for the amazing and wonderful kid that he is. Everyone has worked hard to help him get to this point. He has worked the hardest.

Anyway, exams are awful for him because of the pressure and the 100% reliance on reading, understanding and writing in order to succeed. In some cases he's taken them orally, but he wants to do it like the other kids so he studies and studies. I have been scribing index-cards for him since grade 6, which seems to work. Study once while you make them, then use them to self-quiz and find out the spots that need work. Throw sets of cards from unit tests into a drawer and pull them out if the same material is covered in a summary exam.

Heading into Grade 9 in September, I made a deal with him. We make study cards for one hour every Sunday afternoon, whether there's a test coming or not, just to stay on top of the material. He can use these for the tests, and also for semester-end exams. If he sticks with the program I will take him down to Hourglass Comics in January and give him some money to buy some comics that he can read during the "cramming" days just before exams. Because of the work he's been doing, there will be no need to cram. When he aces the exams, and people ask him "How'd you do it?" he can reply, "I dunno, I just read comic books." So this weekend we're going to the comic shop.

We've increased the study load to 30 minutes per day to catch up on some material that we didn't capture on our Sunday afternoon cards, and to make time for review, but so far we are sailing smoothly. It feels more like "just show up and it will happen," rather than "OH MY GOD WE HAVE TO STUDY." That's the payoff for me, along with him succeeding, of course. This is actually fun. I look forward to it. He's not stressed, I'm not stressed. We laughed for about 5 minutes the other night over a sentence from one of his texts, "Your stomach is an organ." Gosh, I wish they gave out letter grades for puns. He'd have a 4.0 average.

So there it is. Exams are at the end of the month. He'll do fine. And it's all by reading comics.

Question: How do you make molehills?

mompoet - pretty sure

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I shouldna

I shoulda ate a dozen Krispy Kremes. I shoulda shaved off my eyebrows. I shoulda read a Nancy Drew mystery. Any of those things would have more redeeming value than what I just did.

I watched American Idol.

I know, I know, I'll probably never forgive myself. I'll never do it again. Promise for sure. Uggggg

Question: what possessed me?

mompoet - embarassed, but coming clean

Monday, January 17, 2005

Big City Poetry Workshop in Port Moody!

The wonderful and nurturing poets of Pandora's Collective will lead two programs at Port Moody Arts Centre. The Path to Poetry is a one-time workshop this Sunday, January 23 in the afternoon. Hibernating with Words, a 6-week series follows, also on Sunday afternoons beginning January 30. For the full scoop check out the Port Moody Arts Centre website. Pandora's Collective hosts events and contests and fundraisers for scholarships and reading nights and oh my...Their outreach is the parmesan on the bruschetta. Even if you don't think of yourself as a poet, think about coming to the workshop this Sunday. It will be good! See you there.

Question: or should I say the pickle on the panini?

mompoet - still thinking about food


Went for a walk at lunch today with Louise. We made our plan a week ago and so arrived at Burnaby Lake Park at noon. We soon realised the error of our ways. Four ducks were swimming down our intended path. We walked on the road. It was not much better.

Question: squish?

mompoet - dried off

mompoet soundjournal update

I am dithering between Johnny Cash and Mozart. Please give me a couple of days while I work it out. I'll probably blurt two journal entries within a day or so of each other. Nothing in common, I think. However, Johnny Cash has caused me to listen to Patsy Clyne and to early Beatles. Get the connection? My subconscious led me to it.

Question: Why why why?

mompoet - rhythm like a rockin' chair or maybe a turn signal (have to stop listening exclusively in the car)

Sunday, January 16, 2005


The painter and the musician are lovers
I met them at the coffee shop on New Year’s Day
He had pried her from her studio, lank-haired and baseball-capped
I’ve been painting for days she explained
Since just after Christmas
Nothing since September
Now I’ve made 7 paintings and more coming out
Like vomiting, she said
But they don’t look like vomit he told me
They’re good

He said It’s something about Christmas
All that expectation
Tell her about the thing, you know, she said
No, you can tell her
No, you tell it better
So he said
Rising up to Christmas we run like lemmings
To nothing
Then it’s over
All that craziness then nothing

So I walked home
Stretching the dog
Shaking off last night’s party
That was good, but no epiphany
The pinnacles are there but not always where you think
There’s no planning for inspiration
Or engineered eurekas
Just a lot of walking up to nothing
Knowing that sometimes
Something happens

Question: Where, when, how and why?

mompoet - walking

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Luau-choo with possible Schnoo

Tonight our friend Brent comes home with wife Michele. They just spent 3 weeks in Maui. Brent celebrated his 50th on Friday. When he gets home tonight about 7pm the house will be full of about 50 friends and family (all arranged by Michele). The party has a Hawaiian Luau theme, which is very funny, given that it will probably snow tonight.

I must pick up a gateau st. honore big enough to sustain a horse. We are also bringing 12 leis to share. There won't be a roast pig, but the lady who owns the restaurant up the hill will bring a bunch of lasagnas.

It will be fun except that I have another cold trying to plant its flag in my nose and throat. I have knocked out the last 2 with echinacea and zinc and pure thoughts. I'll try again. Sure hope I'm not a droopy bird of paradise tonight. Oh well, gotta go find some summer clothes - does a flannel scarf go with a tank top?

Question: How tropical can you get when it's 4 below outside?

mompoet - radiating good thoughts and warm feelings

Friday, January 14, 2005

(automated) Division is the opiate of the math-es

Workity workity work work work. Jazzed and jangled I jittered and grubbed through desky jungles, parched plains of mind-smashed desert offering no notch or nook of respite for grizzle grimble wabraca-yadda think-thank-thunk Oh I just can't get it organized and done! It has been one of those weeks. Too many surprises, too many voice-mails, everybody wants everything now and it's important and also they are upset and the phone is ringing and the emails are flying in the door like bats under a tree branch at first hint of light. I am inadequate to deal with this volume and diversity of demands.

So the last thing I decided I could do at the office today was a one-week-late-already analysis of program costs, fees, recovery rates etc. I had set up the spreadsheet about 2 weeks ago and people had entered their data. I had to go back and check, fix and polish before sending it to my manager, who is actually very nice and understanding about the one week late thing.

As I clicked and tickita-ed at the spreadsheet my mind smoothed like an ocean after a storm. I was zoning out on @sum(N47/D25/E25). It felt so good just to work this monotonous but mathematical task, find botched or deleted formulas, make it pretty....I know, it's weird. But low level algebra housekeeping made me feel all melty calm and happy.

So that's it for now. I have to go back out to work to start up a couple of family drop-in programs in my schools this evening, but I can manage, now that I've smoked a page or two of spreadsheet happiness drug. Ahhhh. I hope it was okay for me to drive home after I did that?

Question: What weirdness calms waves in your mind?

mompoet - yup, Rainman, definitely Rainman @sum(L15*Q27...Q34) but don't get me started again

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Time in my pocket

Finding a bit of extra time is like a dollar my pocket that I forgot was there. When it began to snow this afternoon, I cancelled my plans to go to an evening meeting in Vancouver. Came home instead. I was glad about the decision. My little car just barely made it up the last hill to my house, with wheels churning. I know I could have taken the bus and left the car at the office, but I have about 10kg of work I brought home in case it's snowy in the morning and I decide to work from here. That would not have been fun on the bus with the blowing snow.

So I helped my husband cook fajitas for supper. I helped my son study the industrial revolution. Note to son. It's not okay just to know how many people are needed to operate a cotton gin. You have to know what a cotton gin is. Find out. Helped my daugher find fruit for her mid-winter frozen yogurt experiment. Worked on a poem.

Now I have a book calling my name before I'm too tired to read it. I'm sorry I missed the meeting but glad to find a dollar's worth of time in my pocket. I think I've spent it wisely. I know I got my money's worth.

Question: What would you pay (if you could) for all the time you want?

mompoet - contemplating value

Monday, January 10, 2005

Our New Next Door Neighbour

Welcome to the neighbourhood Justine Cee-Yan Friedman. Your dad told me that you were born Wednesday suppertime, healthy and happy at 6 lbs 9 oz. Your Mom is doing fine too, and we're glad that you're both home now.

Congratulations Wendy and Sol!

Question: What is it about a baby?

mompoet - googly

ps Your dad said we can call you Tina.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Touching Snow

I asked my Sunday School kids about snow rules at their schools. At two other middle schools there's the same rule about picking up snow - NOT ALLOWED. At the elementary schools, they can play with snow but not throw it. If they are caught throwing it, then there are consequences. In one case the kids had to write essays about safety and snow-throwing. I think the kids should be told the rules and be given a chance to behave responsibly, then dealt with if they don't (and recognized and appreciated if they do). Maybe it's a problem of sufficient supervision at the middle school. Maybe there's a precedent. There are so few snow days I'll let this one be although it bugs me something fierce. Grade 6 kids still want to play in the snow for goodness sake!

Pick your battles mom. At any rate, this seems to be a thing not just at our local middle school, but at others.

The kids sledded on Thursday afterschool at the park, but stayed in on Friday and haven't been out since. I promised to take them "tubing" up at Cypress or Seymour on the February Pro-D Day. That'll be fun.

I hope it doesn't snow again until Thursday. I have a couple of late nights through which I hope to drive my little car that doesn't go uphill very well in the slippery-slidey. I could work from home Thursday and Friday if necessary. Gotta go to the office M-T-W, and the kids have evening commitments those days, so I'll cross my fingers. Whatever happens, the disruption is short and infrequent, and not worth worrying about. I got a ton of work done at home on Thursday and took transit in on Friday. It'll be spring in a week or two.

Question: How thick is the snow that stops us? How slippery the ice that will not allow us to do so?

mompoet - weathering the whether

Friday, January 07, 2005

Really Big Balls

of snow, out on a school field. Those kids must have had a ball at recess and lunch time. There were about a half-dozen snowballs, each taller than a grade 6 student. Must have taken at least 10 kids to roll each one at its largest.

In the meantime (emphasis on "mean"), the middle school administration forbade touching snow with your hands. I am not exaggerating. Here's a quote from what they told the kids on Thursday morning:

If you pick up snow we will assume that you are intending to throw it. No snowmen, no snow-pies, no picking up snow for any reason. Anyone caught picking up snow will receive detention or suspension. No exceptions. Do not pick up snow.

ps Don't have fun.

I guess they have to be careful. My daughter asked her teacher why and he said they want to avoid lawsuits. Gosh, they let the kids pick up softballs and carry sharpened pencils. Better take those away too. HUMBUG!!!

Question: We don't we all just lie down and close our eyes and breathe slowly and evenly?

mompoet - irritated by irrational caution

Thursday, January 06, 2005

mompoet sound journal #3

The Be Good Tanyas
Nettwerk Productions 2003
****1/2 (out of 5)

This is porch-sitting, popsicle-licking rocking chair music, recommended to me by Megan (daughter of Cathy from last week's sound journal). Megan is 14 years old and as musically inclined as her Mom and Dad. She's also a writer and a poet. Megan enjoys "guitar-driven melodies and songs that are very strong lyrically." She told me, "I always find that you can judge how good an artist truly is by how 'real' their lyrics seem; if I can relate to a song I find that I can enjoy it a lot, even if, musically, it is rather simple." Megan's favourite artists include Jewel (but not her latest album) Kathleen Edwards, Leonard Cohen, Natalie Merchant, Dar Williams, The Wailin' Jennys, Josh Ritter, Ani Difranco, Tracy Chapman, Sixpence None the Richer, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Vanessa Carlton and Sarah Harmer. She discovered The Be Good Tanyas Chinatown when she was looking for a CD that included "House of the Rising Sun." (Megan specifies, "the original version, not the Bob Dylan-ized one.") She found this CD in her parents' collection and, she admits, "it's been in my room ever since." She says The Be Good Tanyas "make banjo sound cool!"

The Be Good Tanyas are Frazey Ford, Samantha Parton and Trish Klein. Here's their offical website. They met in tree planting camps and later again at the Kooteny Music School. Home is Vancouver. Chinatown is their second album. It's a mix of traditional songs and original works, classified as "contemporary folk," which I think means traditional sound and style with contemporary subject matter and new interpretations of classics. They all sing, and among them they play guitar (acoustic and electric), mandolin, harmonica, ukulele, piano and cool banjo. They are supported by Andrew Burden on double bass and Glenn "Ike" Eidsness on drums. Their sound is simple and direct, quiet drums, hardly noticeable electric guitar, no big production sound. This is definitely girlie music, mostly about love, hurt, death (including a sweet and sincere tribute to Samantha Parton's dog, who she loved very much). When I first listened to it, I was reminded of the music my parents played for me and my sister and brother when we were kids, Peter Paul and Mary, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger are the ones I can recall. I fell in love with a song written by lead singer, Frazey Ford, called "ship out on the sea." Something about these lyrics just caught my heart and made me sing along with a big goofy grin,

plant me in the garden
don't you let me roam
cuz love is a feeling like a warm dark stone

There's also a grim but excellent tune called "waiting around to die" by t. van zandt, and the interpretation of "House of the Rising Sun" is pretty cool too.

I did have one reservation, something I wasn't sure about, so I emailed Megan with my question:

Do you know why Frazey Ford sings kind of "blurry?" Is it part of the style that the group has consciously adopted? Is this a progressive folk convention? or does she have a speech impediment? I'm not sure what to think about it. My evil sense of humour keeps picturing a bunch of young women fans at a BGTs concert, all standing and swaying and singing along with their mouths full of graham crackers and honey.

Megan answered:

Actually I don't know why she sings that way...I imagine that it's a method of expressing passion in her singing without resorting to Mariah Carey type vocal acrobatics (OOoooo!!! Aaaa-oooahhh!!!!! Ya-Yaaaaaaa!!!). However that's just a guess. I should hope that she does realize that's how she sounds; it would be rather embarrassing for her otherwise.

Thus my rating of only 4 1/2 out of 5 stars for an otherwise totally loveable album. I dithered about whether the mumbly singing is charming or annoying. I had to decide on the latter. I feel like a fuss-budgetty mom, saying "You'd be so pretty if you'd just get that hair out of your face," but that's my perogative. I would enjoy these lovely songs more if I didn't have to read the lyrics to find out what's being sung. It's not like that for every word of every song, but for enough that it bugged me.

This one is definitely a keeper. I will be visiting the music store again to buy a copy. Thank you Megan for introducing me to the Be Good Tanyas! Next week - Mom and Dad recommend Mozart.

Question: Wuzz thatcha say'n?

mompoet - ears full of graham crackers and honey and happy cool banjo

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

5:30 is early

but that's what time I rise on a workday, just so I can get a little quiet time before everyone starts crashing around. I shouldn't complain. Husband leaves the house around 4:30am to start work at 5.

I survived the first day back after 2 weeks off. Only experienced "fight or flight" about 4 times. Said some silent swear words. Hugged Sherrard who returned to work after 2 months working on her art and staying with her family in New York City - Go Sherrard! Got rice in my keyboard eating leftovers at my desk. Did not take down my Christmas decorations from my office door.

I am listening to the Be Good Tanyas. I emailed Megan, who loaned the Chinatown CD to me, with a question. Once I find the answer I can write my mompoet sound journal #3.

Nine o'clock feels like eleven when you get up before 6. The pillow is singing a song about a cloud and a dog and a strawberry and a coconut. Better go lisssszzznnn.

Question: Did you know that if you hold your keyboard upside down and tap the back of it, the rice will fall out from in-between the keys, then you just have rice in your lap, not in your keyboard any more?

mompoet - nanobrain pillow-bound

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hardly Perfect

After revealing that I did not floss during Christmas vacation (well once on Christmas day - not because of any religious reason, because of turkey). I feel that I must respond to shocked expressions from friends and family at the realisation that I am not perfect.

  • I prefer to entertain after dark. I light candles, eliminating the need to dust or wipe surfaces. I splash a tiny bit of bleach down each bathroom drain and in the tub. Then it seems like I cleaned the house.
  • I have not cleaned behind my fridge. Ever. I have lived in this house for 14 years and 4 months. Sometimes the cat sits in front of the fridge and looks at it. I imagine something is living behind there. If I'm lucky it's just bugs.
  • I had rats in my house in 1994. We got rid of them but it took 10 days. I was operating a licensed family daycare at the time. I had to notify my clients and the health authority, then we set traps and barricaded the basement . The rats were smart. They stole the bait, ate my chair and all but 2 escaped. Another one died in the wall, which was also lovely.
  • My children fight about 78% of the time that they are together and awake. I do not know what to do about it. This has been going on for approximately 10 years.
  • When one of my children has been horrible to me and I have been patient and positive and firm, then the child walks away and stubs his/her toe and yells OWCH! I secretly say "karma" and fantasize for just a moment about telekinesis.
  • I eat egg rolls with my fingers, then I lick my fingers.
  • I belch when I drink pop, and I guzzle beer. My husband always has to tell me to slow down.
  • I read People Magazine at the orthodontist office and the place where my son gets his hair cut.
  • I drool when I sleep.
So there you have it. Definitely not perfect. And that's not even a complete list. Sufficient however to dispel any remaining myths.

Question: Who said I was?

mompoet - typical

That Other Resolution

I nearly forgot that I made a resolution in November to try to slow down and not schedule every waking minute of my life in this new year. Today is Tuesday, January 4. My husband is at work. The kids just left for school. The dog and the cat are snoozing and I have a day off. That's a good start! I had a few hours of banked OT left so I decided to postpone my return to work by one day.

So here I am thinking about how well I've been doing with this resolution to de-celerate...

November and December were mostly very busy. I did find some quiet moments, and I didn't volunteer for anything extra, and I let the housework go for the most part. Usually work tapers off in the late fall, but it didn't. So this season felt even busier than usual. However, I had zero sick days and very few moments of actual panic about getting things done. That's a good sign. I wonder if my exercising is helping. I know it gives me energy and clarity.

Winter break was an excellent time to practise slowing down. I am proud to say that I did very little on my two-week break. In fact, I neglected to do the major things that I had planned during this time. I had intended to help my son paint his bedroom, and to get rid of his old bunkbed and replace it something more suitable for a teenage boy. The bed's bought, but still in the box, and we didn't paint after all. About the first day of vacation, he told me, "I think a colour change will be too stressful for me right now. Can we do it during the summer?" He even decided not to switch beds, wanting to keep things just as they are. I respect his choice, and not just because it excused me from a lot of work. He has successfully made the transition from middle to secondary school this fall, joined a couple of new activities at school and kept his grades high enough for the first half of the semester to qualify for the honour roll. This has taken a lot of energy and concentration. I think he's smart to insist on a break from change over the holiday, even if it's just a change from Grizzly to Canuck blue and from a red metal bunkbed to a sleek IKEA double bed with beechwood frame.

The first thought I had after accepting his choice was, "Okay, I can paint the entryway instead." (It's in sad shape, having last been painted about 10 years ago.) Then I took a breath and said, "Or may I can not paint anything." Hmmmm that felt okay.

I also planned to read a lot of books over the holiday. Instead I listened to music and read newspaper and magazines. Okay. I did read half a volume of short stories and I finished Stephen King's On Writing. But the pile of good stuff I got from the library is ready to go back, unread.

I worked on two poems and one short story. Both are at the "hide the thing in a drawer for a while and look at it in a couple of weeks" stage, so I've set them down for a while.

I did not bake Christmas cookies of any kind, except for 16 shortbread cookies made from frozen pucks of dough bought for a drama school fundraiser.

I decorated and undecorated for Christmas, but I did not clean my side of the bedroom, nor did I wade in and help the kids clean up their rooms.

I walked miles and worked out at the gym in the mornings, but I took a break from weightlifting.

I did not bottle the wine that I made in November. It can age in the carboy until I'm ready. I did drink wine and sit on the couch and look at the Christmas tree and talk with my husband and children.

We ate the last jar of pickled garlic. I did not make some more. Life will go on.

I wrote Christmas letters on December 31. I haven't mailed them yet.

I have not gone to any "Boxing Week Sales." I have gone to the video store once, and to once to Extra Foods, but no shopping otherwise.

I have watched little tv, except for some DVDs. I have listened to the radio, and to CDs.

I did not floss.

I did not type minutes for the Poetry House meeting that I did not attend in December.

I have not made my Sunday School lesson plan for the classes that I will begin to teach this weekend.

I have cooked really nice, but easy suppers for the family pretty much every night.

Tomorrow at work I will hit the ground running, with back-to-back meetings from 9am-3:30pm. My first step to less push-push in my life will be to come home at 5:30. I know that means I will leave phone messages and emails (from today and from Wednesday) unanswered. I know that means I will have a stack of work on Thursday. Life will go on. I will hang onto this feeling of "stop is okay" as best I can in the weeks to come.

Question: Is working hard to do less a contradiction in terms?

mompoet - rehearsing neutral

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Bad Boots Battle

About a month ago I grabbed my favourite laceup hiking boot style snowboots out of the trunk of my car only to discover that one had a slash across the leather upper. At first I thought I'd left my skate blades uncovered (they ride around in my car with me in case I find an opportunity) but they were covered, so maybe it was spontaneous destruction, who knows? I wear out a pair of boots every couple of years because I use them in the rain and snow and mud, when I'm camping, when I walk the dog etc. So I headed to Zellers to get another pair.

Only problem, they changed the style on me. So I got the ones that looked something like my old ones, similar price (not expensive!) and bought them. I should have been suspicious that they are now made of "man made materials" - in this case that tough nylon boot weave stuff. But they felt good when I clumped around the shoes racks inside the store with them on, so I got them.

I wore them to walk the dog the next day and YOWCH!!! One fifteen minute walk and my heels were hamburger. It took almost two weeks to undo the damage, using those "fast healing" superbandaids with silver nitrate in them. They are good stuff, but these were bad blisters.

While I waited I pondered what to do with the boots. I'd worn them in the rain and mud, so they weren't returnable. I know I have triangle shaped feet, but most regular shoes fit me okay, and even when there's a bit of heel slip, it doesn't do damage like that. By the beginning of Christmas holidays my heels were good as new, so I started experimenting:

#1 Insoles
I took the super-boingy insoles out of my workout shoes and stuffed them into the boots. I walked around the block. YOOOWWWWCH! Now I had to wait four more days for the hot spots to cool before trying again.

# Heel Lifts
Too cheap to spend on something that might not work, I cut a triple thickness of corrugated cardboard into a heel shape and put these inside my boots. Wore them around the block. Somewhat better, but I could still make a grilled cheese sandwich on the back of my foot after only a short walk.

# (Really, I am not lying) Duct Tape
I looked inside the boots that were so bad, then into all of my other shoes and boots that do not cause damage. The difference with the bad boots is that they have a seam running up the middle of the heel that is not covered by another piece of fabric or leather. Eureka! It's not so much the fit, as the surface. So I cut a couple of squares of duct tape and stuck one in each boot, covering the seam where the boot meets my the tender part at the back of my heel. I walked the dog. Hmmmmm, feels like....nothing! YES!

So I can keep the darn things. I suspect I will have to replace the duct tape from time to time. I know I will never again buy a pair of boots of similar construction.

Question: Why can't they just do it right?

mompoet - housewife, footwear tamer, super-hero

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Club tZunami

I just found out that you can donate your Club Z/HBC Reward points to tsunami relief. You have to go to the store and fill out a form. Much more useful than a bread machine or a set of monogrammed bridge mix dishes, I think.

Question: Got points?

mompoet - Zeddy

Dark and Dark Lite

Saw two movies this week, one in the theatre and one on video, both good.

Lemony Snicket - A Series of Unfortunate Events

This is faux dark and very funny. Our daughter has read the first three books, upon which the movie was based, and reports that the movie doesn't stay true to the story, but she enjoyed it anyway. Jim Carey hilarious as Count Olaf, and the sets and costumes are gorgeous. My favourite part is the subtitled baby, Sunny, who says things like "She's the Mayor of Crazy Town," and "Bite me."

Last night my husband I watched Monster. It was great, although hard to watch. A love story about a serial killer. Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci are excellent in this movie, based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos, who lived life as a tragically angry and hurt outsider who worked as a prostitute and murdered several of the men who picked her up along the highway.

Time to run outside in the sunshine, I think!

Question: milk chocolate, dark chocolate or strawberry sorbet?

mompoet - enjoying some of each

mompoet sound journal #2

Damien Rice
Vector Recordings 2003
***** (out of 5 - I promise I won't just love everything, but I do love this)

Why do we love sad? When my friend Cathy loaned me Damien Rice she cautioned me that this is not "light, uplifting listening," but I am willing to listen to anything for this project, and this is Cathy's favourite CD of 2004, and I trust her. Why do we love sad so much? More about that later.

Cathy's family is all about music. She studied music for years and played in the Burnaby Ladies Pipe band. As a teen, she saved her babysitting money to buy albums. She still plays music at home, accompanying her favourite CDs on the djembe. Her husband, Terry, manages local artist Laura Doyle through his agency, Hystar Entertainment. Previously he worked for A&M, Universal and BMG. Currently, he is President of Music BC. Terry and Cathy hang out with musicians, go to shows and concerts all the time and have the most amazing contemporary music collection that I know about. They have promised to help me with my listening project. (Daughter Megan's pick, The Be Good Tanyas, will be next week's review.) Cathy's favourite artists are Nina Simone, Etta James, Damien Rice, Natalie Merchant, David Gray, Neil Young, BB King, Laura Doyle, Po Girl, Wailin Jennys and Sarah Harmer. Favourite concerts were Ray Charles, Judy Collins, Vince Gill (although she rarely listens to country any more), BB King, Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones and The Eagles. Her music fantasy is to put on a big party for all of her friends and hire Colin James to play for us.

Cathy found about about Damien Rice from her friend, Laura Doyle. Cathy says, "I loved how the songs 'ran into' each other. I enjoyed listening to the quiet lines spoken at the end of the songs, the cello was fantastic, his harmonies with the female singer were beautiful and he sang from deep down in his soul." She shares the CD with Megan, who is also "hooked." Cathy concludes, "At one point we listened to it so much that I thought we might actually wear it out."

Damien Rice is a singer from Ireland who played with a band called Juniper for several years before recording on his own. O is his first full-length CD (there are a few singles) and it is sad. The album is all ballads. Every one is about loss, disappointment, unrequited love, despair. It's named for The Story of O, the classic erotic novel of dominance and submission, and one of the songs refers to the novel. Damien sings and plays the guitar and a few other instruments. He sings with Lisa Hannigan, who has a hidden track at the end of the CD - her own version of Silent Night. The first thing I noticed when I listened was Damien's voice. If he was a classical singer, he'd be a tenor for sure. In some songs he moves up to a falsetto voice for parts of the song. In many songs, he starts out barely whispering, then builds to such volume and intensity that I had to turn my volume control down because my daughter informed me, "I can hear you upstairs Mom." (that's kind of a nice reversal, isn't it?) I watched a couple of Damien's concert videos on the web. The stage is dark. There are no rockets, no leaping about. Musicians sit in chairs or stand and sing and play. Very spare, very sad, and also beautiful. The cello, played by Vyvienne Long, adds layers of sadness and drama. The sound is clean and direct, but not uncomplicated. There is a gregorian chant in one song, and in another, an opera singer, singing Damien's words translated into Finnish because they sound better in that language. All of the tracks except one were recorded in people's homes using portable recording equipment. The lyrics are original too. Here are a few lines from my favourite song, Cannonball:

stones taught me to fly
love taught me to lie
life, it taught me to die
so it's not hard to fall
when you float like a cannonball

You can listen to music and look at lyrics at Damien Rice's official website.

The hit single from the album is Blower's Daughter (featured in the movie, Closer). All of the songs are very good. The sound/tone/theme is consistent and unifying, but the songs are each different from one another. Most important to me, I felt emotional sincerity. My "I am being manipulated" button is pretty easy to push. Nothing touched it in this case.

So why do we love sad so much? I think about the times when I have experienced deep sadness, pain and loss and I know that when I feel this way, it feels good to hear a beautiful and articulate expression of someone else's sadness. It's not just that feeling of "I am not alone," although that's there. It's more like the beauty of the expression raises my own sadness to a level of perfection and beauty. It's kind of an upside-down emotional aesthetic, but it's real and powerful and totally valid, I believe.

When I am happy (which is most of the time) I still love expressions of sadness. I believe that a deep river of sadness runs underneath our day-to-day living, and is an essential element of our emotional/spiritual existence. Understanding and appreciating this sadness - dipping a toe in the river by listening to music like Damien Rices' O - maintains my awareness of this aspect of life. I believe that it is the basis of compassion and generosity.

So there we go, a very sad, very beautiful work of music that I will love to listen to when I am happy and when I am sad.

Thank you Cathy!

Question: none today

mompoet - palms full of jewels

Saturday, January 01, 2005

CD Storage Secrets Revealed

My dad has so many CDs, it would take 150 years to listen to them, not counting bathroom and sleep breaks. He's a gigantic classical enthusiast and a true expert and sincere help with many technical questions. Here's his opinion of those CD binders:

Aesthetics aside, also the CDs aren't well protected. Both the shiny surface and the label surface need to be treated with care. Jewel cases are really best for whenever a CD isn't in the player. It bugs me that many CDs now come in paper envelopes only. Sometimes the envelope dimensions don't allow the CD to emerge without being scratched; when I get such an envelope I slit it at least partway along one side.

He goes on to tell me about what he and my mom do about CDs in their car:

We have a 10-CD changer in the car. We bring the liner notes out to the car, leaving the jewel case at home, and keep a baggie containing the liner notes in the bin that is between us, behind the shift lever and hand brake, where we also keep eyeglasses and the cell phone. The liner notes are supposed to be kept in the order that the CDs are in the changer, so we can tell what CD # 6 is without sampling it. For classical music particularly, you want the liner notes available, or at least the movement tempo markings, keys, etc. even if you are very familiar with the work. It's the co-pilot's job to read from them when needed. For multi-week trips where we want more than 10 CDs we take along the jewel cases. Your mother doesn't like this CD changer arrangement too much because it's a pain in the neck to change CDs (the thing is under her seat and it involves sliding the seat all the way forward to access it, which means she has to get out of that seat first), and if the back seat area is full of stuff it means that that has to be re-shuffled before I can get to the changer, and then again afterwards.

Sounds like I'm pretty much doing the best there is except in cases of extreme heat:

High temperature and high light intensity are both no-nos for home-recorded discs (they do the commercial ones no good too, but both light and temperature are even tougher on home-recorded ones), and surface care is just as important for them as with commercial ones. Leaving a store-bought CD in a hot car in the summer is a bad idea, and leaving a home-made one in a hot car in the summer is a worse idea. Rapid temperature change is a bad idea for any CDs or DVDs; if you bring them indoors from the cold, or if you get into your car on a cold day, wait a while for them to warm up before running the CD player. (This may not be as serious a consideration here on the coast as elsewhere.)

So from now on in the summer I'll bring my little crate inside the house, and just pack a couple of discs out to the car whenever I leave.

Thanks Dad!

Now I just have to figure out a more easily portable system for my stereo face-plate. Because I don't carry a purse, the hard case that came with it is a nuisance - just one more thing to pack in my hands, and a bit to clunky even for my winter coat pocket. I'm thinking of sewing a little fabric case with a handle into which I can slip the faceplate in its case, thus freeing up a couple of fingers anyway.

Question: In the grand scheme of things, are these not luxurious and irrelevant problems?

mompoet - lucky, lucky, lucky