Thursday, June 30, 2005

Too darn much

I am forcing myself to stay home this morning until 8:30. Work has been over-the-top crazy for a couple of weeks now and will be for two more weeks then it's my vacation. After two weeks away I will return to a world transformed. August is quiet at the office.

Working in recreation programming I am always 6 months ahead of myself for planning. For example, with my team I am just putting the finishing touches on programs for September-December. I am also leading the development of our operating budget for 2005. This is an extra project, which is fun for me (remember I love spreadsheets and math problems attached to large amounts of money and also helping people who are intimidated by them to do a good and confident job) but more pressure. Good planning makes for quality service and that happy feeling that everything is running the way it should, when it finally gets around to running.

At the same time, I have to be in the moment and warm-fuzzy type professional, the way rec people are. So I'm helping summer leaders who got the wrong size t shirt and parents who are worried that their child might not want to go out in the canoe and teens who left it to the last minute to sign up but really want to volunteer all summer. As well, I'm on the team that's running the leader in-service training this week. That's 100 staff, mostly university students, all coming togethe to get dipped in our philosophy, practices and resources and ready to go next week leading camps and playground drop-in services. The training school started yesterday and concludes today. It's conference style with guest speakers, breakout sessions and a really fun "Amazing Race" type team event running through both days. It's pretty complicated, and for all but one of us it's our first time running a multi-activity conference, but it's turning out very well. The proof of the pudding is that we already want to work together on this job next year. Once you figure out how to do something it feels great to do it again. Kind of like having the second baby. There's a big element of "next time I'll know I can do this without killing someone, so I'll actually enjoy it."

Layered on all of this is family life: recitals, and karate gradings and teacher gift-buying and awards ceremonies and pre-planning of the mid-summer birthday party and everything else.

I talked to my friend Robin yesterday. She suggested that the busy-ness of times like this might be addictive, so that when a chance for repose comes along we actually resist it because our brains become acclimatized to a higher level of stimulation. When we slow down it really feels like physical withdrawal.

So this morning I'm testing it. I have to be at the Arts Centre at 9. Now it's 20 to 8. I have wet hair. I'm wearing pajamas. I will not go to my office at 6:30am like I did yesterday. I will arrive at 9:05.

My name is mompoet - I am not a stress bunny

question: can I resist the adrenalin lure of being indispensable?

mompoet - not a stress bunny

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

for irene


question: are we through yet?

mompoet - not as musical as you

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Corporate Gifts for Unhealthy Living

Today at work we had a wrap-up celebration for our annual "Active Living Challenge." It's a 6 week-long event put on by our Wellness Committee to encourage healthy daily habits among city employees. Every day I tallied up points for exercise, healthy eating, adequate sleep (not always) and a range of more esoteric options. You get a point for "attending a spiritual or cultural event," and also for performing a random act of kindness. I like this broad concept of wellness. So you don't get aerobic everyday and maybe once in a while you eat KFC washed down with rum and coke for supper (not really, but just for example). You can still get points for watching less than one hour of TV or having a smoke detector in your house.

Anyway, I always get top points in this challenge, and so qualify for all of the gifts that they hand out at the end. This year I got a steel thermos, a compact tool kit, a portable battery-operated fan and a City of Burnaby T-shirt. Last year I got a collapsible chair, a beach mat, a first aid kit and a sun umbrella that hooks onto the collapsible chair. I was thinking about all of these prizes, and wondering if they will ever have to give out the same prize as last year, and also wondering whose interesting job it is to keep inventing gifts for wellness committees to give out to employees.

Next year I think they should dump the Active Living Challenge and have a Slack-tive Living Challenge. You could get rewards for doing crossword puzzles, shopping, surfing the net, driving to work, taking the elevator and eating drive-through meals in front of the tv. I like this idea because it opens up a whole new realm of prize possibilities: Level one would be a package of cigarette rolling papers emblazoned with the City logo. Level two, a martini shaker. Level 3 a remote control that can be programmed for your tv, stereo and dvd player. I was stuck for level 4 until I ran the idea past my friend Brian. He had just the thing:


Okay, guess I better go practise up. I think if I log off quick I can catch the second half of Jeopardy. No wait, that show actually requires me to think. Better go find a re-run of friends. I want the bacon alarm clock.

question: should I get a prize for taking good care of myself?

mompoet - marvelling at corporate culture

Festival Time

This will be a good weekend to walk through a Port Moody neighbourhood naked without being noticed, or to rob a bunch of houses I guess. Because everyone will be at Golden Spike Days. The festival is 3 days long this year. It has everything from can can dancers to bouncy castles to pancake breakfast to talent shows to a beer garden and noisy night time concerts. It's corny and boisterous and too much fun.

We thought we'd be out of town this weekend but we're not. Yeahhh! We're going to Golden Spike.

question: who will win "Port Moody Idol?"

mompoet - smelling the cotton candy already

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Life is good but stuff still happens

What a perfectly luxurious, lovely and abundant weekend. We ladies of Easthill/Seaside Ridge, six of us plus one visiting mom, hung around Denman Street and English Bay for the weekend. We got a huge suite with an ocean view at the Coast Plaza (for just $99 thanks to a generous friend with connections), enjoyed supper at Delilah's (private room and drag queen performance of hits from The Sound of Music), drank sufficiently little to get up at 7am and walk the seawall (well, 2 of us did) and see the Scotia half-marathon racers come in over the finish line, shopped at Robson (I actually enjoyed it) and came home in time for Sunday supper with our families whom we love. Everything was easy and beautiful and fun and life is sweet at key lime pie. Mmmmm

All the while as I was enjoying this I was also carrying tiny pockets of worry about friends who struggle with troubles and misfortune and ill health. Most of them you wouldn't know to look, but it's there. And I think I tempt fate when I say to myself, "I'm so lucky that my family and I are well, and happy together, and we have enough money and when we want to do something it usually works and the worst we have to worry about is squeaky bicycle brakes and having to stay late at work sometimes."

Gratitude is corny and passive but that's the first place I go when I think about these things. I am happy to be so lucky, hopeful that others will find their way to happier times, and generally glad to be alive. Weekends like this one are the chocolate sprinkles on the banana split. And about those pockets, well, I do pray, asked-for or not, believed-in or not, I give it for anyone I can think of or remember who might need some boosting up. Beyond that I try to help when I can with kindness and generosity and reassurance. Where appropriate I donate money or take political action. When I'm filled with energy I send white light for protection and peace.

Just a minute ago my husband asked me to come outside and see the roses in the garden that just bloomed today. They are pink/yellow/orange so much that we can't remember them ever looking like that. We do remember that we planted the rosebush at a despairing time in our lives. It was given to us as a gift by friends who love us and wanted to give us reassurance about the future. I think that's part of what we must do - try to notice all of the things that drop in my path unasked-for, and have faith that they will be there also for my friends and family when I worry for them.

question: how did we get drag queens and roses and financial audits and cancer and asparagus and sunsets and arguments and poverty and generosity and reckless damage and disconnected love and chocolate sauce all in one world?

mompoet - sorting it all out on a continuing basis

Friday, June 24, 2005

mompoet soundjournal for june

Edith Piaf
1993 (compilation) EMI France

****.5 (out of 5)

Michele and I met in Grade 4 and became good friends in Grade 5 at Sperling Elementary School in Burnaby. We continued through high school together and have been close friends ever since. For a couple of years in the 80s we were alternately confused as twins and/or a couple, but not so much these days. We have studied together, waitressed together, gone camping in the rain and cooked and enjoyed about a gazillion suppers together. We are the inventors of "Squeezer Salad." Ask either of us for the recipe any time.

All this said, Michele and I are pretty much opposite in many ways. This is good, because Michele is one of the few people who willingly challenges me on a regular basis. She's the one who prevented me from quitting teacher training when I was in total despair because of a very difficult school placement. If I remember rightly, she gave me a choice between a kick in the butt if I quit and a bag of peanut M&Ms if I stayed. Thanks in good part to her pushing, I made it through the last weeks of the program.

So when Michele presented me with a challenge for my listening project, I was not surprised. She chose Edith Piaf, and told me it was time that I learned to enjoy music without understanding the words. When I asked her why, she told me:

Because you are smart. You don't need to listen to lyrics. Because you are a poet I felt that you weren't really listening to the music itself. You were listening to the lyrics. Music itself requires its own interpretation separately from the words.

I had difficulty at first, listening to songs sung all in French. I know just enough French words to be tantalized by partial understanding. I guess this is how a two year old feels when the adults around her chatter on and she can pick up only the parts she knows. I struggled to understand, despite my intention to just listen to the music. I listened to the instruments, the voices, the rhythm and the emotion. Finally I clicked in. Edith Piaf sings melodramatically, but with a sense of control and playfulness that beguiled me once I let go and just tried to connect with the feeling. The orchestration is cheesy in many of the songs, but the drama and intensity of the voice is wonderful.

Michele's family is from Quebec, and she tells me that she grew up listening to the Piaf records that her Mom played.

I asked Michele about her musical tastes and what part music plays in her life.

I love classical guitar and I love blues. I tend to enjoy most other music but not with the same interest. I really don't like rap. I was brought up with various types of music around with my Dad being in the jukebox industry. I used to load the machines for my Dad to earn extra cash.

How did she come to love Edith Piaf?

I love Edith Piaf's passion and sincerity. She has learned her skill through the tragedy in her life. She was a very tenacious woman in the face of much adversity. She is my comfort food of music. Plus she was raised by a number of prostitutes in a brothel.

You can read about Edith Piaf's life and music on lots of websites. Here's one.

So what about the music? It is mostly sad and dramatic but also angry, mocking, and brave. My favourite song on this CD, "Rien de Rien" sounds like the singer arguing with herself, and is very saucy and funny even though I don't understand most of the words. Most of the songs are recorded in the 50s. They have a story-telling feel to them, and they're definitely torchy in style. There are violins, accordions and harmonicas. In most of the songs, Piaf sings by herself, but she's accompanied by male singers in a few. Her voice is strong and rough around the edges. When I listen I feel a strong will pushing the sound out, but not emptying herself. There's power, lots of it, in this singing, but also vulnerability, and also the feeling that she knows it, and uses it to good effect. I like it.

I asked Michele what I should listen to next and she says:

Any music without lyrics or not in English. Just enjoy the music.

Okay, I'll do that. I've been listening to Moby and Nirvana this week. I'll put them and their words away and comb the shelves for something without words, or maybe opera...Hey, I have The Magic Flute. There you go. How do you like them apples, Michele?

Thank you, Michele, for throwing me this challenge. I like it, I like it. And have fun in Quebec. Listen to some French comfort food music while you are there!

question: pourquoi pas?

mompoet - translator disengaged

Thursday, June 23, 2005

what the fork

I just put the new "stainless flatware" into the dishwasher. It took me 5 minutes to liberate from oppressive packaging.

  • 20 pieces (4 settings)
  • 10 twist ties holding 1 setting in display bondage (worse than a Barbie doll package!)
  • 15 individual fork/spoon/knife condoms preventing the remaining pieces from consorting in the back of the package
  • 5 elastic bands confining individually wrapped forks into a fork club, knives into a knife club and spoons into a spoon club in cutlery segregation
  • instructions (?!!)
  • enough cardboard to choke an ox
All this for $19.99 which probably means it was also made by an underpaid worker at best.

Ugggg. Next time I will look for a used set at the thrift shop.

question: who decided all this is necessary?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Tonight we celebrated my Dad's 70th birthday. His birthday was really on Sunday, but that was Father's Day so we postponed the birthday for a couple of days so he wouldn't be cheated out of dinner and gifts and cards. Mom made delicious supper and we ate on the porch at their place. It was good. For his birthday I gave him Chinese beer. For Father's Day I gave him a promise of a walk around Burnaby Lake with a sushi lunch at Piper Spit. Dad says he'll carry the sushi in his napsack. Darn, we were going to set the date tonight. Dad, I'll call you.

Today I went to an ERP meeting at work. We're switching over all of our little old business systems to a new, big, integrated, state of the art system. Because I am fearless around computers (not good, just fearless) I always go to stuff like this, and I usually get to represent my work group in info sessions, focus groups and reporting back. So I might get to be a "subject matter expert." That's more of the soft squishy stuff in between the automation and the people who have to use it that I like so much. What does ERP stand for? You decide.

Daughter won two academic awards at her school assembly today: Grand Honour Roll (all "A"s all year except 1 "B" allowed per term) and Super G (top effort marks in all subjects every term). I sneaked out of work and back in to see the ceremony. Andy made it too. The choir sang again. I didn't know until after but Andy was playing with cracking the girl up with goofy smiles while she sang. He didn't really, though.

I got my hip and spine x-rayed today for bone density testing. I saw the top of my femur which was very cool. It's smaller than I thought. My spine is bigger than I thought. They both looked mighty fine and dense and solid to me but I am not a bone density tester so I'll have to wait a few days for the results.

Tomorrow I will post a sound journal about Edith Piaf (finally) I am still listening to lots of music, just not analysing it so much or at least not writing about it.

Ladeez in the 'Hood are having a summer night out this weekend. We're going Robson shopping, which I don't get but I'll go along just like with the Whistler shopping. Just being with them is fun. I always find the one awful thing in a nice store and die laughing and have to get dragged out. Good thing they love me. We're going out for dinner and martinis then sleeping downtown (in a nice hotel, not on a bench) so we don't have to drive home after martinis. Actually, I'm going to drink wine because martinis make me barf. Well, maybe one martini. But not some goofy blue chocolate pineapple upside down martini. A real martini.

I bought some new forks. I'm sick of eating spaghetti with chopsticks.

Second day of summer was splintery but I made it. Need more sleep now.

question: whuuu?

mompoet - ERRRRP

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I love that I don't

mompoet - definitely not Gewurtztraminer.

Solstice Personality Test

Do you prefer

German white wine or Italian red?
Socks and sneakers or bare feet?
Going to a play or to a movie?
Irises or crocusses?
Cola or ginger ale?
Food cooked with butter? or with olive oil?
Salt and pepper or cilantro and chilis?
A cardigan or a lava lava?
Screw tops or corks?
Polite conversation or grunting with hand gestures?
The skytrain or sky diving?
Bubble bath or a bubble butt?
A dollar or a lottery ticket?
A library book or a guy on a bench with a story to tell?
Pigeons or peonies?
Unicorns or earwigs?
Sweet peas or chariots?
Soy sauce or the dentist?
A passing grade or a passing lane?
A compass and a rope or a push at the top of the hill?
An ice axe or a toothpick?
Crampons or capons?
A greeting card or a hug from a gorilla?
Broad band or a magic wand?
A crotch-sniffing dog or a dog-sniffing crotch (that's from the daughter unit)
A chimney full of wombats or Paris Hilton (that one too)
A shovel full of killer bees or an episode of Barney?
Saddam Hussein or an itchy underarm? (that's from the son)
Chafing underwear or Mr Dressup?
Nuclear farts or conventional weapons? (son humour again)
Anthrax or zits?

I'm sorry, this evening's blog has been hijacked by children. I give up.

question: a quiet evening of wasting time in solitude or stimulating repartee with teenagers?

mompoet - I don't have a choice

Sunday, June 19, 2005

dooce in vancouver

If there's any blog I enjoy as much as Matthew Baldwin's Defective Yeti, it's Heather Armstrong's Dooce. Well, Heather was just in Vancouver for a conference about the internet, and she's posted a slideshow of her visit (see her June 19 post). She has a photo blog running parallel to her wordy-blog, and it's good too.

It's neat to see how someone smart and insightful sees your city. I hope she comes back soon.

Well, I'm aboot to go to bed now. Nite y'all.

Question: can you feel yurr roots? (rhymes with foots or puts)

mompoet - you can take the poet outta the midwest, but there's still a dollop of midwest in the poet. Glad I'm here (thanks mom and dad) and awfully glad I'm not from Utah like Heather.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

observations of a non-shopper

1. Bike shorts are not that bad, but you have to try on a few (dozen) pairs to find the right one.

2. Whoever put fluorescent lights in changerooms is evil.

3. Suck it up, at least you still fit in the changeroom.

4. It's on sale and it's good quality, so you will not have to go back for a long time and you have money left.

question: why is there not a body double personal shopper to buy clothing for me?

mompoet - not liking it, but home now, and still alive

Happy Birthday United Church of Canada

My church turns 80 years old this month. I've been a member for almost 4 years. I was baptized a couple of days before my 40th birthday. I'd say I was raised by aetheists, because it's true, but that sounds too much like saying I was raised by wolves, which isn't how it is at all.

Mom and Dad, you got goodness without a God to say that's the way it should be. So when I went looking for a church because I always believed in God anyway, just made up how to do it, I found the church that was closest to the morality that I got from you, my family. In the United Church I found an interested and active appreciation for all world religions, leadership in the world peace movement, huge emphasis on social justice and responsibility, and an embracing of individuality. The United Church led the way in ordaining gay and lesbian ministers, and officially embraces heterosexuality and homosexuality as gifts from God. The United Church was also one of the first to apologize for participating in the oppression of First Nations people through residential schools. Nothing is perfect, but I feel like this church is real, conscientious and continually evolving.

While I was looking for a church, I thought, "Should a church fit my world view and morality? Or point the way to a better one?" I think the answer is "both." But I also think that my sense of goodness is part of me as I was born or created (or both) and that leads me to whatever my spirituality is, with a bit of shaping from life experiences too. I also believe that I don't need a literal explanation for everything. Science is great, but it's like consciousness, provinding a partial explanation for reality that can co-exist with other things (like faith) in overlapping sets. In my church I find good people who are flexible, creative, daring, willing to step out of their realm of comfort and security to ask questions, speak up, offer help. This is the the "showing a better way" part. I continue to learn to challenge myself to sustain that goodness that has always been me, to accept myself and the world, and to love it and me and everyone around me and care for all of it in the best way I can.

Happy Birthday United Church!

question: both?

mompoet - and more

Friday, June 17, 2005

paranoid tinnitus

I was in the changeroom at the gym the other day and I heard a drill-like sound coming from behind the lockers. They're always fixing something at that old rec centre (Kathy, I put that comment in for you) so I figured they were working in the men's changeroom which is on the other side of the wall. Later when I got out of the shower after my workout, I heard the same sound, but this time from the other side of the room, but I didn't think much of it. Out in the parking lot I thought I heard a lawnmower in the distance. Wow, I thought. Lotta buzzy noises today. Oh well.

I went to my office and did some work, then headed out to a meeting. As I opened the trunk I heard a low buzzing sound coming from inside my car. At this point I wondered for a fleeting moment if I was crazy, or maybe if there was a hornet's nest in my trunk which you will know is possible if you've ever looked at the mess in there. But it was nothing like that.

My electric toothbrush had activated itself in my gymbag. I reckon is was brushing teeth in there from 8:15-11:45am. Luckily without toothpaste.

So while I still struggle with a bit of an obsession about slippery teeth, I am not, for the time being at least, paranoid or hearing the voice of the water pik saying "flosss and brussshhhh flossss and brusshhhh flosssssssss annnnddddd bruuuusssshhhhh."

Also my arteries are not hardening. Or if they are they are doing so very quietly so far.

question: did I ever tell you about the time I thought I had an unhinged jaw but it was really my bra making a noise?

mompoet - not a good listener, but I hear things sometimes


This is old, but appropriate for today:

when sky pounds down
to drown the ground
gripped, ripped stripped by lashing gales
leave spider skeletons
over leaf-clogged drains
boots are buckets, shoes sponges
you must choose your course
to press on against rain's slanting wall
curl tight and wait for dry
or peel free from damp layers
leave boots and bags behind
and dance naked in liquid glory
absorbing the power of the storm

question: which course?

mompoet - procrastinating in pjs and thinking about puddles

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

avoiding the water

Daughter's middle school music concert was tonight. I am awful about these things. I just cry too easily. Even when it's someone else's kids. I get all proud and tender and boom! I thought we were safe, buried in the middle of the crowd where I could look at shoes and exit signs and stuff if I started to feel gushy, but when I went to gab with some neighbours my husband switched us to the front row, bang in front of the choir within spitting distance of our daughter who has already told me not to laugh or cry so that anyone notices because IT'S TOOOO EMBARRRASSING!

So they sang 7 songs in all, in between crashing and booming by the band (which never makes me cry - even when our son played in it). Four were snap-poppy toe-tappy things so I was okay, but the other three, oh my... So here are things that moms do not to cry when their daughters are looking at them and telepathing "Do not make me embarrassed."

1. Bit your lip really hard.
2. Watch one singer and listen to hear just her voice, separate from the others (hint: don't pick your own kid).
3. Look at shoes and exit signs.
4. Count to ten silently in all of the languages you can think of.

Phew! I made it! They did sing very beautifully enough to skewer my heart, but my eyes stayed dry and my face bright but not too exuberantly happy, because that's embarrassing too.

Driving home our daughter said, "You know when we sang Hero? Ms. Kitzinger (the vice principal) was crying." But that's okay, as long as it's not your mom.

question: right?

mompoet - stoic on the outside, blubber-facey on the inside and also very proud

Sunday, June 12, 2005


do you think I will be sued for using the words "Robert DeNiro" in my blog without permission?

question: DeNiro?

DemompoetNiro - DeNiro DeNiro DeNiro DeNiro er Rupert Donairo I mean

How to catch up to Michael Caine

To understand this post you have to read the one from earlier this morning first (see below).

Here is my dad's reckoning. We have adjusted the "movies made" figure to the ones actually released, because the career-starting movies were based on release dates.

Begin with 116 movies for MC in 49 years. How many would MC have made in just 45 years?

116 x (45/49) = 106.5306122...

If by five years from now, i.e. after 45 years of making movies, RDN will have made as many movies as MC would have made in 45 years, then RDN will also have made 106.5306122... movies by then, which is to say he would have to make 37.5306122... new movies in these next 5 years, so he'd better make 38, which is 7.6 movies per year.

I also must point out that we are not actually looking for Robert De Niro to reach a point where he has made exactly the same number of movies as Michael Caine. What we're looking for is an identical rate, so at a given point in De Niro's career he will have made the same number of movies as Michael Caine had made at that same point. As my dad also pointed out,

Sometimes the question you first ask is not the one you really want to answer. I said "a right thing" and not "the right thing" since it can be done the hard way too, but mathematicians are so lazy that they'll think long and hard if necessary to figure out an easier way to do something. Figuring out that it was a right thing to calculate took me about a second, finding the calculator took about two seconds, and punching the buttons took a couple of seconds.

And there's the answer to my question about Dad's rate of figuring too.

So now I am looking forward to watching the .5306122 movie when Robert De Niro makes it. We wouldn't want him to exceed Michael Caine's rate or we might have to do more math.

Thanks Dad, I get the math. I'm glad you did it. My considerable brain power was focused today on more mundane but essential matters.

question: What's your favourite Robert De Niro movie, and do you have any suggestions for movies that he could make quickly enough to catch up with Michael Caine?

mompoet - enjoying the luxury of pointless speculation

michael caine vs robert deniro

My husband got so tired watching me make jam last night that we stayed home instead of going to the movies. No, I'm just kidding (about the jam I mean). Was the bundt cake that bad that he could not get off the couch? Maybe he was afraid that I intended to go out in public in my jam shirt and barrettes? hmmmm...

Anyway, we stayed home and watched The Mission. I like Robert De Niro a lot, but I liked Jeremy Irons even better in this movie. I liked the movie a whole lot. But this post is not about Jeremy Irons. I'll do that another day. This is about Robert De Niro, and Michael Caine, who is not in the The Mission.

When I looked up the list of movies in which Robert De Niro has acted, I was impressed. He's made more than one major feature per year for a lot of years. I have always thought of Michael Caine as
THE MOST PROLIFIC ACTOR IN THE WORLD but De Niro gives him a run for his money. Here's how they stack up:

Age: RDN is 61 - born August 17 1943
MC is 72 - born March 14 1933

Number of Movies Acted-In: RDN 71
MC 117

First Movie (as listed on the 100% reliable internet...phhehhh!)
RDN 1965 Trois Chambres a Manhattan He was 22 years old
MC 1956 Sailor Beware He was 23 years old
I think these are the release dates, so they were probably a year or two younger when they made them, but they also cranked out movies faster those days I think - no three years in post production while we figure out what to do with this turkey, just sell the show (ahem. sorry)

Avg. # of Movies/Year during career:
RDN 1.8 movies per year (including 2 currently in production)
MC 2.4 movies per year (including one completed but not yet released)

So Michael Caine is more prolific. But they're both good and make mostly good movies. But that's not what this post is about.

Could Robert De Niro Catch up? What if Michael Caine continued to make movies at the same rate indefinitely, and Robert De Niro decided he wanted to match Michael Caine's movie per year rate in say, 5 years. How many movies would Robert De Niro need to make by 2010 if Michael Caine kept going at his established rate, for them to have equal rates by that time.

I won't answer that. I'm just a movie geek, not a math geek.

Dad, let me know. And tell me how fast it took you to figure it out. Your rate of solution is also of interest.

And mom, I put in a couple of dangling participles for you, because a good mom is a mom you can joke with.

So in conclusion, but unrelated to much I have said so far, I think we should delete We're No Angels from Robert De Niro's list because it was such a terrible movie. But we should give double credit for Cape Fear. I loved that one. So it does not affect his rate at all.

Oh yeah, and we should give bonus points for This Boy's Life. A good movie, with Robert De Niro, actually made locally. Which is really a good balance-out for We're No Angels - local stinker.

question: who cares?

mompoet - I know, Shut your pie hole

Saturday, June 11, 2005

berries, yurts and other stuff

Storytime went just fine. Marya is a remarkable storyteller, and the people at Lougheed Town Centre are spectacular. I hate the mall, can't stand shopping, detest the idea of commerce as entertainment but the mall admin people at Lougheed are good stuff. Sure all of the malls are doing community things to pull in customers and polish their images as good corporate citizens, but the ladies who run this mall admin office keep inventing new things to do and new ways to get involved in the neighbourhood. Still, I am staying out of WalMart for good. Nobody can clean the hands of that monster.

Anyway, the kids had a great time and the moms got to relax. A dozen daycamp leaders came over from the community school to warm up the audience with storybooks and to promote their camp registration which starts next week. It was fun meeting them. They're all university students, employed on an HRDC grant. I'll see them again because they'll come to our staff training later this month. We do a lot of stuff in cooperation with the community schools. It's also fun because I worked on that grant project in 1984, as the project manager. I met my best friend Robin that summer. She was the preschool teacher. I also graduated from SFU and got married that summer (cooked Saturday, married Sunday, took Monday off for a honeymoon - WOO-HOO!) then back to work at the community school daycamp. Seeing the leaders so bright and talented and having fun working together and getting to know each other made me feel very happy.

After work (I love that kind of work) I did some necessary but fast shopping then drove our daughter to tap dance lessons and took our son to the bank. He is determined to be a millionaire. Despite having a debit card for 3 years he still deposits more than he spends or withdraws. In fact I don't think I've ever seen him withdraw anything. Anyway, today he surpassed 1 kilobuck in his savings account. He is very proud and happy. I talked to him about volunteering this summer and he agreed to go to the Volunteer Centre next week to find a job. That way he'll get some experience so maybe someone will pay him to work next summer. Then he'll really be a millionaire.

Picked daughter up from dance and took her to a friend's house for a sleepover birthday party. She was out last night too, but we allowed only a late-over. That's a neighbourhood invention to save sanity and ensure our kids get some sleep. At a late-over you act like it's a sleepover - pjs, chips, music, movies, whatever...but you come home to your own bed at 10pm. All the fun and none of the staying up all night and being a junior grizzly bear the next day. Anyway, last night's lateover was in a yurt. Daughter took the cardboard from the IKEA bed boxes and built a box fort in the neighbour's carport. I'm tickled that the girls are almost 12 and they still think this is cool. They spent all afternoon after school building it, then late-overed in it from 8-10:30. They had flashlights, an MP3 player and home-made ice cream cookie sandwiches. They snuggled up in their duvets and watched out the window of their fort and yelled "DUDE" when someone walked down the road. I called their fort a yurt because that's what it looked like. A roofless yurt, actually.

While the girls were building the yurt I made labels on the computer and labelled and put away about 40 bottles of wine that I bottled last weekend. Now I'm stocked up again with red, but I need to make some white. And some more red for when this stuff is all consumed. It's hard to keep up, what with parties and suppers and giving it away all the time, which I like to do.

So this afternoon after the sleepover drop-off and big bank deposit I picked up 32 pounds of strawberries and brought them home. We have eaten a couple of pounds or maybe more. The local berries are like nothing else - sweet and flavourful, red to the centre and so juicy. They last for a heartbeat and must be enjoyed as soon as they are picked. So I have about 20 jars of jam now ready to go in the freezer, and a bundt cake ready to cut and serve with piles of berries. Then Andy and I will go to the movie. I hope I can keep my eyes open. This has been a busy weekend so far.

Tomorrow two of the kids from my Sunday school class are serving communion, and all of the other Sunday School teachers except my partner Greg have taken off for the weekend. Luckily they took their kids with them, so Greg and I will have probably about 12 maximum to do something with, but they will range from 2 years to 16 years, which will be fun. What's the common denominator I wonder? We'll work something out.

Some weekends have one big highlight or accomplishment. This is more of a laundry list weekend, but lots of good laundry. I hope I'll find myself on Monday morning encouraged by all that got done and happy to have had some fun with Andy and the kids too.

question: is a yurt a yurt without a roof?

mompoet - jam dandy

Friday, June 10, 2005

defective yeti - It's Business Time

I read Defective Yeti - the blog of Matthew Baldwin, just about every day. I found it by accident when I was researching information about yetis for a bad poem. This is a very good blog.

Matthew's June 8 post features an MP3 file by a New Zealand duo called The Flight of the Conchord. Their song "It's Business Time," is very good. So please go read the yeti blog and listen to the song.

question: yeti yet?

mompoet - yup yup

in the place where the pens with ink and the other socks live

there are also all of the regular-sized forks that were once in the kitchen drawer at our house. At one time we had 16 forks. Now we have 3. I felt like hammy paws tonight eating supper with a dainty dessert fork.

Where are the forks??? I guess when I find them, I will also find the socks and the pens that work.

question: where are they? Did they gallop away on their clickety little tines? Have they been modified to be used as drug paraphenalia? Did they join a cult of forks who believe they can be used to eat soup if they just believe in their essential integrity????

mompoet - forking mystified

appreciation is good

I had a day off work today. I got today off because I'm working Saturday morning at the mall for Story Time. It's lots of fun. We have a wonderful storyteller, Marya Gadison, and community readers and a book draw. Mostly preschool kids and their parents come. My job is to set up, welcome people, answer questions, solve problems, make sure things run smoothly, say thank you and pack things away. Most of the time that is my job, facilitate the party.

So I spent my day off work helping with something that is peculiarly like my job. I helped with the staff appreciation lunch at the secondary school. It was organized by some of the parents from the PAC (Parent Advisory Council). I just showed up to help. I think we served lunch to about 80 people - teachers, secretaries, janitors and the ladies who run the cafeteria. The school is so full that there's no common lunch break. So some of the teachers were in class for the whole 3 1/2 hours we were set up and serving. The PAC ladies had organized so these teachers had lunches delivered to their classrooms by student volunteers. I think that was very sweet. A lot of the teachers were at Awards Night Thursday, so they were back on Friday after a long haul the day before. They all seemed very pleased to be treated to a nice sit-down hot lunch. There were tablecloths, flowers and candles, so the staff room looked very beautiful. The Vice Principal said that most of the time the teachers eat in their classrooms or on the run while they are photocopying or trying to meet students or other teachers between classes. Some of the teachers asked if we would serve lunch every Friday. I wish we could!

So anyway, I took off for half an hour between lunch rushes to get my eyebrows hedge-trimmed and on the way, our son's resource teacher phones me on my cell to touch base about his course selection and schedule for grade 10 and also to say that she wants to kick his butt a bit next fall and get him to put more thought and effort into his writing, and would that be okay with us - do we think he can handle it because she does. She is phenomenal. She spends an hour and a quarter every day with our boy and about 15 other students, who all take different classes. She has helped him with his math, studying for tests, taking tests, writing essays and preparing an oral presentation. Her energy, dedication and love for our kid are remarkable. So anyway, I tell her I think that's a great idea, but I have to go because it's time for my appointment at the aesthetician and she starts laughing and says, "Well, the aesthetician!" Like it's some lah-di-da thing. Then she says, "I would like to get a pedicure one day." So now I know what to get her for a thank you gift. Along with my usual thank you card I'll give her a certificate for a pedicure at the aesthetician - LAH-DI-DAH to you too! Ms Morgan we love you, we do!

Question: who knew that triple scoops of serendipity were available on a regular basis?

mompoet - holding a waffle cone

recognition is good

Andy and I went to the secondary school awards night last night with our son. Grade 9 has been an incredible year for him. He's blossoming in all ways. Still pretty much his own cat, but he's sticking with karate and participated all year in the Third World Awareness group. Academically he has excelled. We always knew he was smart. It's like the secondary environment allowed him to be offically recognized for it.

The school is liberal with awards. Out of 1750 students, 1110 received awards. About 400 kids actually showed up. Our boy won three awards: service, work habits and honour roll. He felt really proud. So did we. He knows we're proud of him everyday, whether he gets an award or not, but getting the awards is pretty special and feels very good.

We saw some amazing high achievers - kids with 99.6% averages in International Baccalaureate programs, grade 12s with scholarships (Harvard, Berkeley School of Music). I think part of our son's success this year is that our local school is an IB school, and attracts smart, non-typical kids from far and wide. The environment is less cliquey and more accommodating of kids who march to the beat of their own drummer. Last night it felt like being smart is actually cool. In secondary I struggled with being smart and even did some things of which I am not proud. (eg I skipped school the afternoon of the awards assembly in grade 12 and was noticeably absent when awarded the top academic student award for the school. I felt so bad I apologized to the principal the next day but still I think about it.) Anyway, I'm glad that so many kids are smart and good workers, and our kid is one of them, and at least 400 of them think that smart is cool and awards are not too geeky to accept.

Daughter's awards assemblies are next week - one for athletics, one for academic/service. She knows she's getting an athletic pin, and I'm pretty sure she's on the smart list.

We're pretty lucky - smart kids well-served by good schools. We show up for the awards. Recognition is good.

Question: 99.6%???

mompoet - 100% happy

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

not rwanda

eritrea yes!
get the map hurra hurra
maybe we'll visit

question: where?

mompoet - better

things I am glad about today

in random order

  • purple petunias (the trailing kind)
  • poems about trains
  • daughter made it into the PNE Star Search - a new experience awaits!
  • friend Cathy won a prize for that papaya salsa I blogged last month
  • strawberry rhubarb muffins
  • Andy helped me put the IKEA bed together - it took us 97 minutes and cost a fingernail or two but the boy loves it
  • the dog slept 2 nights without pajamas and didn't chew her butt
  • strawberries are ripe
  • I didn't have to go to aircare (thank you wonderful husband)
  • the tetanus shot didn't hurt at all
  • the head gash is healed
  • no industrial accidents in 5 days
  • cats shed only for a week or so
  • Natalie Merchant
  • dental plans for orthodontic work
  • we have more towels downstairs
  • wine corks
  • the boy who helps with the wine-corker
  • 4 more days of secondary school then 2 exams
  • 10 more days of middle school, including exams
  • the NDP guy hung up when I told him we were assembling an IKEA bed so is this an emergency?
  • ladeez in the hood weekend coming soon
  • summer dreams
  • really blonde but still smart
  • new poems in development
  • mom's home from Missouri
  • uncle Rene got an iBook
  • did I mention purple petunias
question: no question, life is good in many small ways

mompoet - gladder 'n glad

Monday, June 06, 2005

cookie dough

Our son made cookies tonight. He used the big bag of chocolate easter eggs that I forgot to bring to Cranbrook. Somehow we got the idea that it would be better to use this surplus chocolate for cookies than it would be just to eat it. More healthy somehow. But guess what's in the cookies? Butter, sugar, sugar, eggs and white flour. So we're just making more goo. But it is good goo. As good as the cookies taste when made with chocolate chips, they are even better made with chopped up eggs or bunny chunks.

I helped unwrap the eggs and chop them into big bits. It is necessary for me to be part of the cookie-making because I am the magic maker of chocolate chip cookies. Ever since my mom turned me loose in the kitchen to cook on a step stool when I was 5 years old I have made the absolutely best chocolate chip cookies in the world. People ask me to marry and/or adopt them when they taste these cookies. I can get anyone to do anything by offering a cookie as payment. Now my young ones are learning the magic. Just following the recipe does not work. You have to diverge from the recipe just right - like Luke Skywalker learned to use the force. In time they will make the cookies when I am far away. For now, I must be in the room or they are just cookies. When we make them together they have secret powers.

I am not exaggerating. Ask anyone who knows these cookies.

question: right?

mompoet - trust the force, Luke

fate again

I mean it about events conspiring to change the path of daily living...

Andy moved my car last night and noticed a slow leak in one of my tires. So this morning, instead of going to the gym at 8, I'm going down to the tire store at 9. Something is keeping me away from the gym.

Maybe it's my guardian angel. Maybe it's the goddess of voluptuous abdominal amplitude. Who knows. I go with it. It's happened too many times before that I have been glad that inconvenience has put me out of harms way.

I know, I'm a fruitcake. So far it has kept me off the rocks, so I like it.

question: the power of fate?

mompoet - you know, the one with the built-in horseshoe?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Shinzen Jiai

Our son participated in his annual "friendly match" for Shintokukai Karate-do, his karate school. We spent Saturday afternoon in a middle school gym watching karate kids and their teachers demonstrate kata and sparring. We've been to a few of these. Our boy started karate when he was 8 and has stayed with this same school all of these years. It was fun to see the tiny little ones just 6 years old and remember when our boy's white belt days.

Our fifteen year old green belt did a fine job. He looked so smart, and performed his kata very crisply. He's still somewhat tentative in sparring, but he has come a long way, especially in his stance and balance. He didn't match his opponents for kicks and blows, but he was solid and very good defensively. And he looked great, although I think we'll have to buy him a new gi for September. He's almost as tall as his dad now.

We spend hours at our daughter's performances, but relatively little time watching the karate boy. I try to arrive early to pick him up from practice, so I can watch for a few minutes, but mostly he's pretty independent about it, and certainly doesn't want any spectators when he practises at home. We're proud of him when we see him demonstrate his skills. He has put in hours of work to get to where he is today. I'm grateful for the opportunity to celebrate this.

question: how did he grow up so fast?

mompoet - filled with wonder

random or reasoned?

I'm bumpity-bumping through this weekend, thinking over and over: is this random or do things happen for a reason?

Friday morning at 6:30 I had finished my breakfast. The dog was lying under the dining room table making appealing and sympathetic noises. I bent down to pet her and whacked my head on the computer desk in the corner. I saw stars for a minute, then I realised I had split the skin on my brow. I cleaned it up and hitched the sides of the cut together with a bandaid. I saw the family doctor a couple of hours later. He said that it was healing already and didn't need stitches - just taped it up with some steri-strips that will come off in a couple days and I should be good as new. I felt embarassed for my carelessness, relieved it wasn't worse (thank goodness for brow bones or I would have damaged my eye most likely) and also annoyed that I missed my morning workout because I had to go to the doctor's office instead.

A friend of mine whacked her van into a couple of those yellow posts in a parking lot the other day. As she drove home she noticed that one of the wheels was making a strange noise. It turns out that the axle was bent in two places as a result of what seemed like a minor, low-speed jolt. Repairs are in the works (luckily her husband can do the work, and has found most of the parts at good prices). The van should be in good shape in time for their departure on a lengthy road trip coming up in a few weeks.

So were these random bits of bad luck? Or relatively minor incidents that happened in order to jolt us off a track that might have led to worse? Of course it's rare that we ever know for sure, but I tend to believe the latter. What if that axle had failed while they were driving through the rockies? What if Friday was the day that I would have hurt myself at the gym? Whether or not God or fate or some other force plays a hand in these events, I'm always grateful when they happen in recoverable ways. I didn't split my head open on the picnic table while we were camping in the woods somewhere. The van got damaged a few blocks from home. Recovery is safe and easy. I think of these as happy mishaps. We all fall down. It is fortunate when we fall into soft arms.

question: reason or random?

mompoet - pondering

Saturday, June 04, 2005

They walked to the wedding

First wedding on Mt. Everest took place this week. I like that they got to the top on their own steam. I guess it's okay to get married on Mt. Everest if you climb it yourself (rather than getting plopped on top by a helicopter). Of course, that's assuming that I get to decide which Mount Everest weddings are okay and which are not.

Question: I don't get to, do I?

mompoet - well, thank goodness it's just an opinion

Friday, June 03, 2005



Thursday, June 02, 2005

Why I am a Mean Mother

or should I say meeeeeeeeeen mothrrrrrrrrrrrr?

I had lunch with two friends yesterday. The szechuan was so spicy our eyes and noses were streaming. We were gulping water, gobbling rice and laughing fire-breath laughter as we traded stories of why our daughters have declared each of us MEAN MOTHERS!

Here is a partial list of our meannesses:
  • We cannot find clothes that our daughters like. Even when we take them to the mall with us. Nothing fits or feels good and it is all our fault.
  • We will not let our actor children perform in 2 shows at a time. Sure this would mean that we would have to drive to rehearsals every night of the week. But Geez Mom, there is Sunday!
  • We think everyone does not really have an IPOD. We are old-fashioned.
  • We say "No MSN when you have homework. All the other families let their kids use MSN continuously, even during supper.
  • We wear dorky clothes and embarras them. We should be stylish, like other moms.
  • We make them eat vegetables. Vegetables are gross.
We are the meanest of the mean.

And one day, they will be moms, and they will be as mean as us. Please pass the peppers - GRRRRROOOOOORRRR!

question: me mean?

mompoet - When I have to be

The helicopter

It landed on the top of Mount Everest on May 14. When I saw the video I thought it was a hoax. What do you think?

Then I thought, "Nope, it really happened, but it's actually pretty sad." There should be some places in the world you have to work to get to. It's great that high altitude rescues will be aided by machines like this but it also opens up the ultimate in fat cat tourism, helicopter picnics at the peak of Everest? Top of the world wedding ceremonies? Awful!

Then I did a bit of reading and it turns out the whole thing is a publicity grab for this fine company that built the beast.

Enough said. Except

question: isn't anything just safe and clean and good anymore?

mompoet - wishing for better for the world

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Looking for boing

oooo what I would give for some springiness right now. Nothing is the matter, just feeling flat. Oh well, I'm going to make a nice salad and read something then go pick up the girl from rehearsal. Tomorrow I will get my hair shortened, rearranged and camouflaged. Maybe that will help.

question: why does nobody play the drums in the doldrums?

mompoet - rum pa pum pum