Friday, December 30, 2005


Fiona and I went to a movie. There's wasn't much out there appropriate for a 44 year old plus a 12 year old. We saw Rent. I did not have high expectations after the Georgia Straight recommended just watching the Rent parody in Team America World Police ("I have AIDS, you have AIDS, she has AIDS, we ALL HAVE AIDS...").

Well, now I know that you can agonize for over a year about your art and still churn out cliche-schlock (like the two main characters, a song-writer and a film-maker do), or maybe I just didn't get it. I also know that a bad rock song that takes more than a year of misery and a soul-searching cross-country journey to create can have the power to bring a lover back from the arms of death. I am also reassured that I still don't like pretty-faces on boys unless they are drag queens, then they are wonderful.

There were a few good moments and fun songs and the character of Angel was lovely, and I think it was still a better choice than Cheaper by the Dozen. Fi and I had a great discussion about it (and many issues connected to it) on the way home, and the whole thing cost just $13 with my parking totally paid for by the theatre validation. As a mom and kid experience it was good. As a movie, I don't recommend it. But then I also hesitate to recommend Team America World Police unless you just fast-forward to the Rent parody and skip the extended marionette sex scene.

Just to clarify:
  • We saw Harry Potter already.
  • Fiona dislikes Narnia
  • I did not watch Team America World Police with my 12 year old
question: seen any good movies lately that you could take your kid to?

mompoet - I love the movies but they don't always love me

Nelson's Big Day Out

Nelson the rat has been watching us coming and going all Christmas. From his place of honour on the "Santa shelf" he has seen us heading out the door to parties, shows, suppers, shopping and all manner of exciting events. On Thursday morning he was looking a bit sad so I asked him what was the matter? He told me that he wanted to come too.

So we took Nelson with us on our busy and fun day. We began at Grandma and Grandpa's house (my mom and dad). They served us our traditional Christmas/Hannukah lox and bagels breakfast. Fiona made Nelson a little paper yarmulke in honour of the occasion.

Next we did some shopping, but Nelson waited in the car because he doesn't have any money, and people get alarmed when you have a rat in your grocery cart. After that we met Louise and Sam and Robin and Emma at Capitol Hill Szechuan for lunch. Nelson could not believe how much fun that turntable is that moves the dishes around the table. But I think he got a little carsick from riding around on it. If you look closely you can see he dropped his hat and scampered out of the picture just before I snapped. Nelson's fortune cookie advised him to keep his nose to the ground and stay out of holes. This was especially appropriate with the suffix "in bed" added. The kids thought that was very funny.

After lunch we went skating. I offered to loan Nelson one of my skates, but he preferred to sit on the sidelines and watch the Zamboni. He asked Al for a ride on the Zamboni, but Al says only the mayor gets to do ridealongs. Nelson says he will run for mayor next time.

Back at home, Nelson helped me set up the carport for the annual "sit in the carport after Christmas and drink hot mulled wine and feed all of our leftover cookies and chips to the kids" party. Nelson liked the mulled wine, although he's not partial to allspice. He stayed away from the chips, but the declared the shortbread perfect. After a nosh, he chatted with Kirsi and Karen for a bit, and I think he's now invited to a New Year's Eve Party.

The party ended about 7:30 and we came inside. Nelson said it was the best day he has ever had.

question: have you taken your rat out on the town lately?

mompoet - some of my best friends are plastic rodents

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy News from Eritrea

My sister has just posted a new blog entry. You can read about her family's Eritrean adventures at The Eatburn Chronicles. There's also a letter that just arrived at my parents' house yesterday. We're going over for breakfast this morning. I can't wait!

No more dire news of war or evacuation. I'm hoping and praying for peace on earth, especially the part of the earth where they are living now.

question: have you been to Africa?

mompoet - ankle deep in Canada (for now, anyway)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Yummy Lunch

Leftovers are often better than the first time round. Mostly for the cook, I think, because you're not eating something you just sweated and fussed over - or even if you did not sweat or fuss it still feels like you culinary baby when it's first prepared, and it's not that great eating your baby.

For lunch today I ate leftovers from the perfect Boxing Day supper. Here's the recipe for those who check in to my blog for recipes. I haven't posted one in a while:

Roasted Eggplant with Peanut Sauce

Slice up one medium size eggplant or about 10 baby eggplants or maybe 2 of the Japanese kind. If the skin is tough, score it or cut strips away. It will soften with cooking but it can be a bit much. Season with salt and pepper and put on a baking pan liberally-coated with olive oil. Bake at 450 celsius for about 10 minutes on each side until it's looking toasty and shiny and smelling like eggplant should smell.

In the meantime, make the sauce: 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of something tangy (balsamic vinegar, lime juice, dry wine - whatever you have), 1 tsp sugar, 1 Tbs soya sauce, 1 small garlic clove minced up and a sprinkle of dried chili flakes plus 1/2 cup of water. Heat and stir on the stove until it bubbles. You may want to add some more water to keep it runny. Don't burn the peanut butter or you'll have to start over.

When the eggplant is roasted, arrange it on a platter. Drizzle the sauce over it. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Szechuan Green Beans with Minced Pork

While the eggplant is roasting you can make this. Put on a pot of rice too.
Wash and trim as many fresh green beans as you can fit into your wok or skillet. More is better. While you are doing that, brown up 1/4 pound of ground or minced pork in some oil in your wok, nice and brown and crispy. You really only need 1/4 pound. It's for flavour - the green beans main event. During the last minute or so, throw in a clove or two of garlic, minced or sliced. Set the pork/garlic aside and put the green beans into the wok. Stir fry them. If you like them crispy, stop when they are all bright green and shiny. If you prefer them wilted, keep cooking until they are wilted. Both ways are good. When the green beans are cooked, toss in a spash of water (1/2 cup maybe?), a couple of tablespoons of soya sauce, and as much ground fresh chili paste as you like. I use sambal oelek. You could substitute chili flaked or chopped fresh chili or chili oil or sauce. Stir it all together, mixing the pork/garlic back in. Stir fry just a bit longer to distribute the chili heat evenly throughout the beans.

Serve the green beans with rice and the egglplant beside it. It's very yummy and good after a monstrous European feast, and even better reheated for a lunch a day or two later.

question: what do you like to eat the day after the feast?

alternate question: what's your favourite leftover meal?

mompoet - procrastinating

All I want for New Years

I never make self-denying or self-correcting New Years' Resolutions (well at least not for the past 20 years). Saying "I will stop watching Trailer Park Boys on TV" or "I will take my vitamins every day" is a recipe for disappointment in self, like a behavioural bandaid that just won't work because it's based on the assumption that I'm doing something wrong, or at least not living up to some arbitrary minimal expectation of virtue.

Instead, I try every year at some time (last year it was November, but I haven't got around to it this year) I try to think of something new that I will decide to do that will enrich my life. That's so much more interesting and utimately do-able than deciding to give up something or to take on a load of difficult but good-for-me or good-for-the-world behaviour.

This is not to say that I think I am too good for improvement. Like everyone else, I am constantly and consciously evolving. It's just that I choose to orient myself to positive and nourishing action. I like to pick something that will reveal new vistas. Maybe it's my background in early childhood education. Maybe I'm a young soul. Maybe I just like to have fun. I believe that we learn and grow through play, so I make play my vehicle of expression and road to achievement as much as possible.

Last year's "resolutions" were:

  • To leave time unscheduled and available for spontaneous choices.
  • To listen to music recommended by my friends and decide what I like and why I like it.
Number one was maybe too much in the denial category, because I haven't been successful in making a substantial change in this direction. There's always way too much to be done, and I find myself fully committed and scheduled almost all of the time. It's a consolation that I am enjoying almost everything that I do, and that there aren't many things I wish I could be doing instead. I'm very busy, but don't feel trapped by it. Luckily I don't need too much sleep. I also have a great degree of control over how I spend my time, so the stress level is minimized. Still, I'd like to be able to say "Hey family, let's pack our bags right now and head over to the island for the weekend." I guess there'll be time when we can do that. Probably not practical right now.

Number two has been a joy and a revelation and a total success. I started out by blogging my musical discoveries every couple of weeks, but that's fallen off. I am listening to all kinds of everything these days, mostly in the car. I'm still borrowing cds from friends and from the library, and buying them when I can afford it, or if I specially love something. In my car right now are Madeleine Peyroux, and by connection Billie Holiday to whom she has been compared but who is, of course incomparable. I'm still liking Red Hot Chili Peppers and also Nirvana and I am hooked on the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou? I think this is because the voices sound like my Ohio Uncles - those soft rrrrrr sounds and lazy vowels feel like home. I have not reached any conclusion about "what I like" because it seems that I like just about everything I listen to. I have decided that I like dramatic expression, acoustic sound and good lyrics and a sense of history or connectedness - either to some other music or art or human experience. It's hard to put into words but it's important.

I haven't settled on what to do for 2006. It's not urgent that I do so by January 1. Something will nudge its way into my decision-making machinery, or not. In the meantime, I'm listening and thinking about other people's ideas for new pages to turn in the new year. Whatever each of us chooses, let's hope the story's a good one.

question: what will you do for the new year?

mompoet - living a very good story

Monday, December 26, 2005

more seasonal haiku

chickweed emerges
through dank maple ground cover
for brief glimpse of light

dog noses damp soil
as eagle ke-keers raw joy
fishing's good today

question: hai?

mompoet: ku

This post my first from mom and dad's hand-me-down mac 7600, prompting this last haiku for today from a mom of teenagers, married to an internet card-player, now grateful for two comuters online...THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!

email never sleeps
msn is msn
my turn online please?

Christmas Surprises

While I sit in my pajamas NOT shopping (but making coffee in anticipation of pumpkin pie for breakfast) I will recap my Christmas surprises (so far).

I have spilled two beer (in two days) - unusual for me - beer are for drinking, not for spilling. Why is it when you do something stupid twice it becomes a legend, but if you do something intelligent twice it's still a coincidence? Apparently I am now cut off and dangerous even to drink water except from a sippy cup.

We finished the jigsaw puzzle. It's spectacular, and we stayed up until 1:30 doing it (practice for New Year's Eve I guess). We are missing 3 pieces, which is not surprising because we hauled it around to different places in the house on a piece of foam core for a couple of weeks. I'm sure I'll find the bits unless a child over 3 ate them. (No, they were not inside the vacuum cleaner hose.)

I fell in a ditch. This is completely unrelated to item number 1 (beer spilling). On Christmas Day I took the dog out for an hour of pre-feast fast walking. Almost home, ascending from the highway to our hillside home, we took a shortcut throught the woods. Trouble is you have to ford a ditch to get onto the woods trail. The sides were more slippery than I expected. I did not actually roll in the ditch, more like hitting the muck on hands and knees. The dog escaped unscathed. I was muddy and laughing. The legend is already blooming though that I lay in the ditch in the frigid cold (it was actually 11 degrees celcius) while the dog saved my life with CPR.

Aside from that, Christmas has been unsurprising. Just nice.

question: have you been surprised lately?

mompoet - always surprised

Going now to eat pumpkin pie and read Diana Gabaldon in my pajamas. How Diana Gabaldon got to wear my pajamas, I'll never know. nyuck nyuck nyuck

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Warnings

We will be very safe this Christmas, or at least if we are killed or injured the products that have played a part in our demise will be off the hook legally (if not morally). Please heed with us the following Christmas warnings:

  • Do not set your new cell phone battery on fire and stand close to it while it burns. (Nokia)
  • Do not eat scented tealight candles or put them in front of a rocking chair (Ikea)
  • Do not use dvd player case as a swing, carseat, or for any other purpose than to hold the dvd player. (Polaroid)
  • Do not let children under three eat jigsaw puzzle pieces. (Great American Puzzle Factory)
  • May contain peanuts or traces of peanuts - on a jar of peanuts.
And best of all:

  • When the candles are lit for "Silent Night," please be careful not to drip wax or light people near you on fire. (St. Andrew's United Church Christmas Eve Service Bulletin)
Have a happy (and safe Christmas). You have now been protected, or at least warned.

question: when did risk management cross the line into the realm of the absurd?

mompoet - loving the silliness of ordinary human beings

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas So Far

I have been on vacation for one week. It's very nice to take a break from work and spend time with the family. Slowing down takes time, so I'm grateful for two-weeks-plus to do this.

Like always, I have lots of plans/ideas for my holiday. Some are turning out just like I thought. Others not so much, but so far it's mostly for the good.

I thought I would sleep more, but it seems like part of getting older is needing less sleep. I have been sleeping in until 7:30 every morning (I can hear Kirsi laughing as she reads that), which is kind of a luxury considering I normally get out of bed at 5:30. But I'm staying up until midnight every night. I have never enjoyed wasting time slumbering, and my back gets sore if I stay in bed too long. This week it will be harder to bound out at the crack of dawn because Andy is finally on vacation too. He likes to slumber. He likes me to stay. Some mornings, when he's home, it's like All-Star-Wrestling just to get my feet to the floor. But that's fun.

Spending lots of hours awake has allowed me to do a lot of things, which is what I had planned for this first week. I have: (in rough chronological order) kept up my cycle class schedule at the gym (pedalling for Almond Roca?), picked up an iMac at the challenge centre so our daughter can work on a film project over the holidays, picked up my dad from the hospital after day surgery to have a monitor implanted in his chest to track what the heck that heart of his is doing in there, made 2 cedar wreaths, shopped with Andy for a Christmas tree (big, beautiful, thirsty-fresh and only $16!), decorated the inside of the house including putting up the tree, attended a performance of A Little Night Music at the Playhouse (3 out of 5 stars), gone out for Italian lunch and Thai supper, watched "A Christmas Story," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "March of the Penguins" on dvd, celebrated with the Shoreline Writers, taken the kids shopping for stocking stuffers for everyone in the family, enjoyed a singing advent church service thanks to the spectacular St. Andrew's United Church choir, stayed up late at the Vancouver Poetry Slam, phoned about a hundred households as a volunteer canvasser NDP candidate Dawn Black, taken our son to the barber's for a haircut, gone ice skating with my daughter and her friends, chaperoned a sleepover and provided the big breakfast in the morning, dropped son off at godson's so they could go see King Kong together, walked through the wet woods with Louise and Soleil, unplugged the clogged vacuum cleaner hose while chatting with Irene, re-negotiated our mortgage (we're in the home stretch and will own this place before our daughter graduates high school - yay!), tried to give blood but was just a bit too low on iron this time, worked on a big jigsaw puzzle, read the paper and drank coffee every morning, walked the dog a lot, baked pumpkin pie, washed a gazillion loads of laundry, cleaned up my side of the bedroom, and welcomed my dad over so he could set up a hand-me-down macintosh computer so we now have two computers online again (most helpful with teenagers).

What I thought I would do but have not is read. Except for the newspaper and the internet, I have not been reading. I am in the middle of a wonderful novel, but not craving it like I usually do with a captivating read. Maybe I should take a vacation from it and go wallow in the new Diana Gabaldon. We'll see.

Today is Christmas Eve. We're having friends over from out of town. Andy and I still have to wrap presents, and there's church. St. Andrew's family service is at 7, but we'll be there at 6 because Fiona and I usher. It's something like being a friendly greeter, something like packing commuters into a Japanese train at rush hour. On Christmas Eve it seems like the whole neighbourhood shows up at our church. There's always room for everyone, but you have to get cozy. After that there's Christmas day with supper at Andy's mom's and my parents coming too, then a whole week more of holidays to do some of the things that I planned, some not, and some that I never imagined.

question: how's your Christmas so far?

mompoet - my cup runneth over

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Nelson Noel

Fiona sewed Nelson a hat for Christmas.

question: will Nelson go anywhere for Christmas vacation?

mompoet - glad to be home, but thinking that Nelson likes adventure in faraway places

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

How I spent my Christmas Vacation

Today I tried to vacuum but the vacuum didn't suck. I love saying that.

I discovered the "not sucking" day before yesterday and I thought I had solved the problem by washing and drying the filters (it has 3) and unclogging the carpet sweeper head with a straightened out coathanger. But it turns out that the filters and sweeper head were not the source of the problem. There was something plugging the hose. This I discovered by detaching the hose with a screwdriver and blowing on one end and nothing moved - like when you're checking for an airway while doing CPR. I couldn't fathom doing a head-tilt chin-pull to the vacuum cleaner so I got the coat hanger and started to dig. There was definitely something smack in the middle of the hose, which I could barely reach and could not budge.

About that time, my friend Irene phoned. I told her I hoped she didn't mind, but I was going to continue unclogging the vacuum cleaner hose while we talked. She was okay with that. By the way, does anyone else have a code of acceptable "things to do while talking on the phone?" For me, loading the dishwasher, folding laundry, cooking, tidying up are all okay. Going pee, eating and reading a book are not. Watching TV while on the phone is definitely not okay. And talking on two phones at the same time is also not okay.

But I digress. So Irene and I are talking and I'm jamming this straightened out coathanger with a hook that I made at one end using pliers to dig into the clog in the middle of the vacuum cleaner hose, first from one end, then the other, with no progress whatsoever, for 15 or twenty minutes. I tried massaging the hose and drilling the pointy end of the coat hanger into the middle of the clog. Nothing seemed to make a difference. Finally, while Irene was telling me about Christmas emails, this gigantic bulge started to move towards me from the middle of the tube - like a boa constrictor swallowing a rabbit or something. Wooooooo! Out came a piece of Christmas tree branch and about a dog and a half worth of hair, first in one big clump, then about 8 more assorted fluff-clots after. No wonder it wouldn't suck!

I told Irene that I got it out, and we finished our conversation with promises to forward good emails to one another. Then I vacuumed the gunk back up and it went through this time, but I put the bit of tree into the trash. I think that's what started the jam in the first place.

So that's what I did today. Festive, cathartic, social and constructive, all in one experience. Yaaay. Happy solstice.

question: what's on your list of OK and Not-OK to do while chatting on the phone?

mompoet - free-flowing

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

helping the cause

Alex and I volunteered at Dawn Black's campaign office today. Alex did data entry all day, sitting in a back room transferring information from yellow slips into a computer program that's keeping track of people who are willing to volunteer, put a lawn sign, make a financial contribution or all of the above. I feel proud of him. From what I could overhear from where I sat, he was doing a good job and having a good time with the campaign worker at the computer area. At the end of the shift he got a letter, and I took a photograph for his graduation portfolio (for the next 3 years he has to document and store every bit of good he does in the world in order to be admitted to adulthood at the end of Grade 12 by the ministry of education).

I did telephone canvassing all day. Mostly I left messages on answering machines, but I talked to quite a few people too. My job was to call through the voters' list, ask for the voter's support for Dawn and the NDP, and record the answer. My ear is still jangling a little from curt responses and hangups, but that's part of the territory. Mostly I got polite "undecideds" and a few "won't says." Maybe it's early in the campaign, but mostly I think people really don't like to talk about their own politics. It's the same feeling you get when you knock on someone's door to ask for a donation to The Heart and Stroke Fund or Cancer Society. There's something really uncomfortable about asking people to put their money or their vote on the line for someone else to see and know about. And phoning their house, asking for them by name and then asking about who they're going to vote for is intrusive, but that's how elections are won.

In the 2004 federal election, the NDP lost by just 115 votes in our riding. If every volunteer canvasser wakes up just one voter per shift during the course of the campaign and inspires/reminds/nudges that voter to vote for our candidate, we will win. I hope one of the yeses I got today will help make the difference.

We left the office in the late afternoon to get to the orthodontist. Alex said it felt like walking out of the movie theatre back into the real world. He's a smart one, that kid.

question: I won't ask it, enough already today

mompoet - walking through ooky-land for a good cause

solstice poem

I was going to perform this one at the slam last night, but there was this big group of teachers sitting in the front row, enjoying a Monday night out without having school in the morning. When I sold them a raffle ticket before the show, they mentioned my Subaru poem, which one of them got from me by email and read on the PA system to their elementary school during Poetry Month earlier this year. I was so tickled to have people in the audience who actually know one of my poems that I performed that one instead, and did not do the sostice poem after all.

So here it is, because it will now go to sleep for a year, except that it's in the Shoreline Chapbook so we might relive the solstice once or twice in the new year.

Don’t go into the woods at solstice
There’s a bear with a Coke who will give you a poke and make you think
You don’t have enough Christmas.
There’s a witch and her clan out-Jonesing the Joneses with her gingerbread sparkles and lipstick the colour of the apple that Snow White bit.
There’s a mackerel-scented Christ candle floating in a bowl of abandoned cranberries.
There’s a girl in a pageant dressed as Holy Mary Mother of God and her immaculate deception Traipsing holy holy around in the snow as white as her pure heart pretends to be.
But if she’s a good liver she’ll mean what she says and do better.

Don’t go into the woods at solstice
There’s an idea of joy that’s as easy to swallow as a golf ball washed down with curdled nog made from the egg of a dragon.
There’s a giant with nose hairs fashioned into a bouffant comb-over, all to hide that he’s been crying because the children will play in his garden but none will be his forever.
There are evil squirrels who do voice-overs for animé features about superheroes named Alvin,
Theodore and Simon.
And the elves spell evel with two “e”s.

Don’t go into the woods at solstice
You’ll find yourself reflected in the frost-crazed cover of a mineral lake
And you’ll go blind trying
To carve your ideas about hope, peace, joy and love into an old-growth forest that’s been devoured by beetles because the winters are never cold enough anymore.
And those who read them before they fall
Will dismiss them as derivative and turn back to classic carols digitally re-mastered on melba toast rounds with smoked oysters for entertainment.

Don’t go into the woods
You might not believe them.
You might just open your eyes and see the clear sky still over the trees
And realize that twenty days or so
Of overdoing almost everything can’t really hurt anyone who isn’t hurting already
But why do it anyway?

Don’t go into the woods at solstice
Go into the world, go into your home, go into the street
The woods will be there another night
When daylight’s nearer
The bears, witches, Snow White, mackerels, Holy Mary Mother of God, dragons, giants, squirrels, animé chipmunks, elves, beetles and oysters
Will still be there too
But it’s possible you’ll find that they are just as afraid of you
As you are of them.

Don’t go into the woods.

question: what is it about the woods?

mompoet - if I wrote a poem about the equinox it would be a crossword puzzle

my favourite day of the year

Tomorrow is Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year is my favourite. The darkness is exciting, and there's the promise of winter which is upward, upward, into the light. Summer solstice is my second favourite, but sadder because the summer is a process of deterioration into less light. From its very first day, the summer goes downhill. Winter, on the other hand is the beginning of everything.

My daughter's favourite part of the weekend is Friday afternoon. Me too.

When I was a kid and we went cross-country skiing, my dad would always put me at the head of the line to charge up the hill and break a path for everyone else. I have always liked beginnings. I usually like to go first.

Winter solstice. Some may see it as ground zero, dark of the dark. For me it's just standing on the edge of everything and saying - another year? Yes! Let's go!

Question: what time of year do you like best?

mompoet - watching the morning begin to brighten at 8:06

Monday, December 19, 2005

seasonal haiku

thirty-five days til
election do you believe
in prime minister?

question - hai?

mompoet - ku

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Poet-Tree

Here is a tree that grows poems. We pick the poems once a year at our December meeting of the Shoreline Writers. We share some treats and mulled wine and we read the poems out loud and sometimes try to guess whose is whose. Then we sing and we sing and we sing, sing, sing, sing.

question: what holiday traditions do you share with friends?

mompoet - fa la la la la la la la laaaaaaa

all is calm

question: none today

mompoet - peaceful

Friday, December 16, 2005

size matters

At the staff lunch, my boss put her car key on the table. It is the size of a baked potato. She drives a BMW. My husband's new car key is the size of a hard-boiled egg. He drives a Mazda. The newer and better the car, the bigger the key. In the meantime, cell phones get smaller and smaller and smaller, unless you have a Blackberry, then it's roughly the size of one of those big chocolate chip cookies at the deli. Except for Blackberries, if your cell phone is so small you could mistake it for an after-eight mint, then it's the best cell phone.

They have the technology to squish a million complex functions into a teeny weeny little chip, so what's with these car keys?

Oh, marketing. I forgot.

question: why do we let people feed us arbitrary notions of what we should think is desirable?

mompoet - baffled

Thursday, December 15, 2005

christmas pants

In case you are wondering, I stapled two kinds of Christmas tree garland all over my jeans. It was fun to eat many kinds of luxurious cheese and laugh with my friends while wearing garlanded pants. The dip was good too.

question: got dip?

mompoet - now on vacation


Half of me is wishing they would just come home right now. Half is wishing they will be able to stay so they won't be disappointed.

My sister and her family have been in Africa for just three months. Barb and her husband Kim are volunteering with VSO, working as teachers in Eritrea. They are there with almost-15-year-old Maya, 12-year-old Lukas and 10-year-old Simon. Eritrea and Ethiopia are fighting. My sister and her family are in a part of the country far from the violence, but UN personnel are being ordered out of the country by the government, and VSO workers are advised by their organization to register with the nearest consulate in case they need to be evacuated.

You can read about what they are doing in their weekly blog The Eatburn Chronicles.

I hope and pray that things get better so they can stay. This is something they want so very much.

question: where in the world would you be if you weren't where you are now?

mompoet - wondering

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

cookies made by the sunday school kids

These were made in November for the church bazaar, which was also in November, but I think they are more fun to look at in December.

question: do you like gingerbread?

mompoet - I like smarties

random christ-missery

I have to find some Christmas pants. Nobody got around to emailing at the office about the potluck lunch tomorrow, only we all know, but somehow it's important to email. So a couple of days ago I emailed everyone and said I'll be in the conference room at noon on Thursday with a big bowl of dip. Who will bring the carrots? Who will bring the chips? Who will sing a song? Who will wear a Christmas sweater? Somehow the volley of email replies ended up with everyone assuming I would wear Christmas pants. Everyone is asking me about them now, like they are really excited or something. Trouble is, I don't even know what Christmas pants are. I will have to make something up. Your ideas are always welcome, even after lunchtime.

Tonight I worked until 9 and ate microwave popcorn and chocolate santas for supper at my desk. I'm almost ready to go on vacation after Thursday. Why do we always have to pay before we go?

I found my Christmas earrings that Kathy's daughter Amber made for me a couple of years ago. They came with a purse, which is a story in itself. The purse was a white vinyl jobbie that I loved, but Kathy and Michele thought was very bad so of course I made a point of carrying it when we went places together. Then I forgot about it for a while, but when we had a big staff meeting I helped organize a prize draw and rigged it so Kathy won a surprise gift, which was the awful purse and she had to accept it in front of about 100 people and be nice about it. Anyway, my birthday came around and I got the purse back, filled with potting soil and a poinsettia growing inside of it, and these Christmas earrings which I still have, and wear. But I don't have the purse anymore. or the poinsettia.

The dog now has a jingle bell collar with red velvet and white fluff, which Andy bought for her. The kids love it, but they are too embarassed to take her for a walk with her bells on. Maybe I could incorporate it into my Christmas pants for tomorrow. The collar I mean, not the dog. Which reminds me of the Charlie Chaplin movie where he stuffs a stray dog down the back of his pants and the tail sticks out and wags.

I still have to make dip.

I still don't know what we're doing for New Year's Eve.

The puzzle is coming along. I am really getting into practice for wasting time. It's slow going but slowing down is good.

Tomorrow night I have volunteered to chaperone at the high school Christmas dance. Alex isn't going, but that makes me a better volunteer. Kids don't want their own parents there so much. I've done it before. You mostly sit at a table that blocks off an out-of-bounds area and make sure the kids don't sneak into other parts of the school. It's very loud and the kids are having a good time. Parent chaperones are there instead of security guards, but the principal and vice principals and janitors are all on duty. The lockers are roped shut so no kid can plant drugs or alcohol in a locker earlier in the day. Mostly they're down at the gym dancing and having a good time. Sometimes they mosey up to the table and chat but they don't try to make a run past us guards into the dark depths of the school. I will bring a magazine to pass my 90 minute shift, and probably chat with another parent volunteer. It's fun to see all the girls dressed up and the boys looking just the same as they do at 7:45 in the morning on a Wednesday.

Friday night the carol ships will come up Moody arm and we can look out our window and see them. If we go to the park and listen carefully we can sometimes hear singing coming all the way up the hill to us. Lots of neighbours show up at the park and the little kids play on the swings and slide in the dark and we ooh and ahh as the ships come up the arm.

Well, I have to go to sleep now so I can get up early and go back to the office and finish rushing around so I can take time off. And I still have to find some Christmas pants.

question: what kind of dip should I make?

mompoet - fa la la la la

Monday, December 12, 2005

the luxury of time well-wasted

At my request, Robin bought me a 1,000 piece, super-complicated Christmas jigsaw puzzle. On the weekend, Fiona and I cracked it open. We have now pretty much got the edges laid out (it's a biiiig puzzle) and we're starting to work on middle parts. It should take us all Christmas.

Having a time-wasting, just for fun, stop doing everything useful pastime like this is delicious. I don't do crossword puzzles, play computer games or even make jigsaw puzzles except one about every 10 years. Most of my procrastination involved output of some kind - most often communication of a nonsensical kind (Sherrard described my snowman cards by saying - "It's Sue, so it's a challenge to play"). Every once in a while I want to make a jigsaw puzzle, so I do.

While we do it, we might talk or we might not. We will welcome anyone else who wants to join in. We will make a group decision about who gets to put in the last piece. Then we'll bust it up, and stop wasting time - probably about January 2.

question: how do you waste time when you have time and feel like wasting?

mompoet - puzzled (temporarily)

bad office christmas gift #1

Cheezball "Cheeses of the World" Soap on a Rope ($9.99)

Sample the richness of a world of cheeses and leave the shower feeling cheddary-fresh! Each distinct cheese variety guaranteed to last a minimum of 3 showers before the next layer emerges. These soaps come in three tantalizing combos:
  • Macho Nacho - for the guy who has everything: monterey jack, marble cheddar, jalapeno havarti and a black olive in the middle *for maximum benefit, try this with the masa harina exfoliating scrub - sold separately
  • The Continental - for the food snob who loves to shower: gruyere, brie, boursin, stilton, asiago, infused with extra virgin olive oil for dewy moist skin *comes with a pronunciation guide, but we know you do not need it
  • Stinky Cheese Man - run run as fast as you can! It's limburger, blue cheese, and feta with extra goat essence, for the guy or gal who likes to keep it real * comes in a recycled hemp sack which can be used as a hat when the soap is gone
question: am I the only one who hates the "Ten dollar gift???"

mompoet - trying not to buy anything for anyone unless it's my idea and my heart is there

Sunday, December 11, 2005

a book is born

It's ready. My Mother and Other Lies, published by the Shoreline Writers' Society is now in circulation. Here's a picture of some of the contributors, Elvira, Jim, Helmi, Kristene and me (missing are Gale, Brian and Jody). It's our most multi-authoured publication yet, and very good. Hard to believe it's #6. We enjoy doing this and we hope all of our friends and family will enjoy reading it.

question: read any good books lately?

mompoet - my mother is the truth

A child is born

in Bethlehem, and also this morning at St Andrew's United Church's Christmas pageant. Here's the famous tableau that ends the show. Note the senior Mary and Joseph, the cute sheep, Alex as a king, and me hanging around the back as a biblical time herder of actor-children. We lost a prophet and gained some community spirit and moved closer to Christmas. Isaiah...where are you?

question: has anybody seen Isaiah?

mompoet: perhaps a bit more "ready" today

ps Thank you to Irene for the crank call Saturday night. (She phoned, and in a diguised voice, asked "Are you ready for Christmas?")

Friday, December 09, 2005

am i ready?

I do not like it when someone asks, "so, are you ready for Christmas?"

What does that mean? Have I bought enough gifts for everyone? Do I have a fat goose running around my back yard ready to be killed, plucked and roasted? Am I ready to welcome Jesus????

Whatever it means, I know it's just polite small (or empty) talk, but it bugs me every year when people start asking. I am trying to think up a good answer that will not be insulting, but that won't make me feel like a weinie or a liar. So far everything I have thought of is inadequate:

YES! The ox and the lamb are lying down and the manger is full of hay and I washed the swaddling clothes!

YES! I have maxed out my credit cards and alienated my family while I cleaned and baked and decorated and told them not to touch anything and wreck it before the guest come!

YES! I have given all my belongings to charity and will sell my kidney on Christmas Eve to provide a food hamper for a needy family.

NO! I am Jewish.

NO! I am dyslexic so I thought it was Easter. Would you like an egg? Here...take 12!


There just isn't a joyous, sincere answer to that question so I mutter something like, "pretty much, how 'bout you?" or "not really, but that's okay, it always comes, ready or not..."

Maybe I could ask a counter question:


Nope, that would be much worse.

If you have any good ideas, please tell me. Meantime, I am going to climb into bed with a book. I don't know what it is I'm supposed to do to "get ready."

question: what???

mompoet - bugged

looks like a pair of scissors; feels like a bowl of ice cream

I rode one of these in cycle class at the rec centre today. It's Baskin Robbins chocolate mousse royale, to be precise. In my legs. mmmm...

Hope I can walk tomorrow.

question: did you ever sit on a big yellow pair of scissors?

mompoet - I like bike (and ice cream)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

oh barf

I thought I was done with the computer tonight, then I find this pithy little email sent 'specially for me...

Dear Susan,
SPLENDA* is pleased to welcome Food Network chef, Anna Olson, to the SPLENDA* Recipe Club. Anna has made it easy for you to use SPLENDA* in your holiday baking this year and has a few great ideas to get you started. Try Anna's Eggnog Cheesecake recipe with SPLENDA* - it's a sweet new twist on an old favourite of hers. Below you'll also find two more delightful SPLENDA* recipes to help you spread the sweetness: White Chocolate Cream Pie with Raspberries and Gingerbread Cake. Both recipes are a great way to reduce your sugar and carb. intake during the holiday season.

question: who will bake the splendid Splenda* Eggnog Cheesecake? (hint: not me)

mompoet - Atkins Schmatkins


They are giving us new carpets at work. All week they have been ripping up the old carpet and putting in new carpet around us. It is stinky and dusty and noisy. Luckily we are all pretty easygoing so we just laugh as we clamber over each other and bumble around the office saying things like "Where's the filing cabinet today?" and "Oh goodness, I just stepped in levelling compound." The carpenters are gems. They go to all of the rec centres and offices and fix things so their job is different all the time. They're really nice when we trip over them and step in glue and roll photocopiers across their fresh work.

Speaking of photocopiers, we got a new one today, including the obligatory "how to use your wonderful new photocopier demo." So here we are, all standing around ooing and gooing, but also kind of bleary from smelling carpet glue from 8am-1pm. I am wearing my coat and scarf because I have my office window open in the freezing cold to try to minimize the impact of the glue (it didn't work). And the photocopier lady must be thinking, "they're right about city workers - what a bunch of dough-brains." But honest, it wasn't really us. It was the glue. I caught myself at 2:30 about to send an email to a school about a holiday program, "Valentine coodies and carafts." Ooops I mean Valentine Cookies and Crafts. The carpenters booked off at 2:45. I worked until 5:30 - actually got something done from about 4 o'clock on once the glue wore off.

One more day. They will carpet my office Friday so I'm moving into Sherrard's office down the hall. There's two doors between me and the glue, so things should be better, but it's farther away from that photocopier.

question: how was work today?

mompoet - gluey, and not eating any coodies

after supper while I was walking the dog

we saw all of these houses with Christmas lights. Our neighbourhood gets pretty sparkly at Christmas time. With the houses so close together, it's like an endless row of lights, each house a bit different. Our houses are small, so it doesn't take a lot to make them look pretty spectacular. We share ladders and admire each other's artistry. It's a lot of fun. I like glowing lights that do not blink. But Ernie's tree blinks and it is quite nice because he climbed all the way to the top last night in the dark to get the lights just right. Tonight I stood underneath it and looked up, but forgot to take a picture, it was so pretty. I also like a lot of one colour all massed instead of a random mixup of colours. Two colours is pretty nice too, like the red and white candy cane motif Andy and Alex came up with on the weekend. I like to walk around at night and look at the houses. The dog just likes walking around, any time. If you look into people's front windows you can see some families have their Christmas trees already. If you look, you can see where two neighbours have got together to decorate adjoining houses in one theme, and also where one neighbour has decorated both houses because the other is old or sick. It's more than just sparkle, there's a lot of neighbourly love when you look carefully. Mostly the lights make me feel like I'm looking at a spectacle of brightness and hope during the coldest, dampest, darkest time. No matter what colour, blinking or still, I love the contrast.

question: what kind of lights do you like?

mompoet - enjoying the contrast

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Just 2 weeks to winter

In a couple of weeks it will be winter. Here's the sun coming up at 7:42am today. This is a beautiful and surreal time of year. Especially at the edges of the day. Especially in the morning. Like walking around in someone else's dream. I love it.

question: what's your favourite time of year?

mompoet - child of the late fall

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A poem for a friend

A friend of mine at the Vancouver Poetry Slam inspired this poem by telling me that individual world championship slam competitors have not only 3 minute competitions, but also 2 minute and one minute slams. I decided to try to make a 1 minute poem and to make it for my friend.

a one-minute poem about your birthday (there will be a parade)

i hope you believe me when I tell you, there will be a parade
with hockey players from canada and fiji
the grand marshall will be a guy with a squeegee
theodor geisel will lead the marching band

there’ll be every poet, living and dead, who you have ever heard or read
ready to answer your questions and to ask you some, too
get down to the street to see bears and elephants giraffes and tigers
freely there of their own volition for interpretive dancing at intermission

tuxedos, gowns, kilts and tattoos, fig leaves, lava lavas, and hair of peacock hues
what fun
tom thompson will paint an art car for you to ride in with your mum
and you, you will make it up as you go along, black sabbath will play your favourite song
elementary school choirs will carry the tune
the book club, the dance club, the legion, the orchid club, the pomeranian club, the ukrainian club…they’ll all trade hats and dance the hokey pokey down the avenue

we’ll toss roses, we’ll peel grapes, we’ll blow bubbles, we’ll play the kazoo
mostly for ourselves, but with a nod to you
it’s true

you are the conductor, the world’s your ragtag band
write the story, tell the ending, watch the beginning and the middle create themselves
whatever you want, once you know what it is
it’s always easier than you think

for my friend, The Svelte Ms Spelt
November 2005

question: have you got a minute?

mompoet - get a poem

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Jack Layton

Saturday evening I took Alex to the office of our local NDP candidate, Dawn Black. She was opening her office, signing up volunteers, accepting donations, cutting a great big cake. The guest of honour was Jack Layton.

Alex was over the moon to meet one of his heroes. He got an autograph and I snapped a picture. I asked Jack and Dawn to keep in mind federal funding for student summer employment (which is currently budgeted to be slashed by about 50% for summer 2006 - I'll blog about that soon). Then they were on to shake other hands and sign more autographs and off we go to the election.

I'm proud that Alex is so excited about the election. Most 15 year olds probably don't even know who Jack Layton or Dawn Black is.

question: do you know your local candidates?

mompoet - jumping on the bandwagon

Saturday, December 03, 2005


I had the sewing machine set up on the dining room table last night, making some small alterations on Fi's blouse for her Christmas recital on the weekend. I looked over at the computer desk in the corner. Lying beside the loaner phone was my lost cell phone.

I looked in that spot 4 times on Thursday when I lost the phone. Nobody in the house found it somewhere else and put it back. It was just there.

That's good (and puzzling).

question: how did my phone come back?

mompoet - scratching my head gladly

Friday, December 02, 2005

telus redeemed (partially)

My boss laughed when I told her I lost my phone. Whew! Her attitude was "oh well, these things happen. You need a phone." I told her I will continue scouring the universe until Monday or Tuesday then replace it.

Meantime my smart friend Louise reminded me that we have a corporate account and our dealer is very good at customer service. Hmmm - the squishy warm stuff between me and the telcorp? I like it! So I drove over to Pacific Coast Com. The nice man there got a loaner phone for me right away, then spent 1/2 hour (I exaggerate not one iota) on his phone convincing the telus drone to re-activate my number. Apparently drone officius had gone home for the weekend (at 3pm) and I should wait until Monday for the one and only authorized finger to push the button so I would regain cell phone service. Coast Com Man just kept phoning people, and waiting on hold, and phoning people, until someone said okay, I will re-activate the phone. Yayyy. So now I have a temporary phone with my number until I find/replace it.

I told Coast Com Guy about 411 and Mr. Surly Man at 9:55pm. He shrugged. I think he can relate.

In the meantime, if you are in need of a Registered Psychologist, call Telus 411 and ask for the number for Telus Mobility. If you need some customer service, go find a squishy guy at an outlet and let him absorb the bad vibrations.

question: I guess if this is the worst thing I can find to complain about I'm doing okay huh?

mompoet - apologizing for posing a rhetorical question...let's try again

question: Would you rather have a psychologist, proctologist or a cinnamon bun?

mompoet - Fried-ayed

telus is an ass

I misplace my cell phone a couple of times a month. Usually it slides out of my pocket or bag. When I notice it missing I retrace my steps, and phone it using another phone. When I hear the ringing I dig it out from under the cat or take it out of the vegetable crisper in the fridge and Bob's your Uncle.

So when I couldn't find my phone last night I wasn't too worried. Until I called it, and got instant voicemail. Hmmm, my phone was turned on when I last remember having it, so it should ring. Now I couldn't use the ring as a locator, and I couldn't find it in my pocket, briefcase, under the seat of the car, in the usual spots where I set things down and forget them. I had worked late at an elementary school teaching cupcake-making, then run a couple of errands. It could be anywhere. And the voicemail meant it's powered down - like if it flew off the roof of my car along the Barnet Highway and smashed to bits, or that someone has found it and is making calls to Hong Kong right now!!!

(At this point I know my friends who do not have cell phones are saying, "You see, that's why I do not have a cell phone.")

My phone is actually a work phone that I'm allowed to use for personal calls as long as I reimburse the city. I pay anywhere from $6 to $30 per month, depending on how much my kids and husband call me. So it's a good deal. If I had my own phone it would be $45 per month, and this way I don't have to pack two phones. (I know the aforementioned friends are saying, "you don't have to pack any phones Mrs. Sillypants.")

Anyway, I decided the best thing to do was to get my number turned off until I relocate/replace the phone, so at least nobody can use it to rack up a huge bill for my employer. When you are preparing to ask your boss to buy you a new phone, it's good to not also have a mega-thousand dollar phone bill.

How to phone Mobility? I was pooped and didn't want to dig up a phone bill to find it. Our phone directories are useless. Andy was playing poker on the internet. I called 411.

Automated voice asked "what city?" I figured I'd probably soon be talking to someone in Manila, the Philippines, but I guessed and said "Burnaby." Automated voice asked, "for what type of listing?" Business. Automated voiced asked for the name of the business. I said, clearly "Telus Mobility." (Remember, I am calling Telus and asking for their own number.)

Automated voice said, "I think you asked for.....Talula Bunkenfunkus, Registered Psychologist. Is that correct?" NO! Automated voice said, "Sorry, please repeat the name of the business." TELUS MOBILITY. Again, "I think you asked for.....Talula Bunkenfunkus, Registered Psychologist. Is that correct?" NOOOOOOO! Now I repeat with condescending enunciation (if one can be condescending to a computerized voice-recognition system:
"One moment please while I transfer your call."
Real person comes on the line. I blurt: I lost my cell. I need to talk to someone in Mobility.
"For which city?"
Oh, what the heck - Dusseldorf! No, sorry, I don't know which city. I need the call centre to turn off my phone so nobody can find it and use it.
"Please hold for the toll-free number."

So I write down the number and call it, and of course a recorded message tells me there's a local number, which I phone and the office is now closed because it closes at 10pm, and hey, it's already 9:53pm but I can suspend my number online (only my husband is now playing poker with a guy who is in jail, or at least pretending to be a guy in jail) so I press 2 which is the other option and Mr. Surly-french-accent comes on.

I explain. He asks for my PIN - I don't know it. I know my voicemail password "That's just your voicemail password, I don't need that." oh. He suspends my number anyway, voice dripping icicles. So, I ask in parting, what do I do when I get a new phone or find my lost phone?

"Call us back during business hours. Good night."

It will be my pleasure, I'm sure

question: would it cost anything to actually serve the customer?

mompoet - happy, healthy, and luckily not that guy