Sunday, December 31, 2006

me 'n' the schnuzzle OR rhinovirus woman celebrates the new year with her family

I slept in this morning and skipped church. I just couldn't drag my snotty coughing self out of bed in time to shower, press and dress for Sunday service. Besides, I feared a coughing fit that might rival "hacking in tongues" during the first hymn. So I slept until just before church time then got up because I was bored with sleeping. Everyone else slept for another hour at least, including the dog and cat who ate their breakfast and went back to sleep. I turned on the Christmas tree lights, made some coffee and zoned out with my schnuzzle. Schnuzzle is a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. A Ravensburger for those who know puzzles. It is deliciously intricate and perverse in its design - a "Christmas Fair" with people, buildings, dogs, birds, trees, snowbanks and sign-boards that are almost all identical to at least one other same element somewhere else in the puzzle. By the time I finish this puzzle I will have named all of them. As it is, I have named the different puzzle piece shapes. Looking for the right shape is just as important as looking for the right piece of the picture. Schnuzzle and me happily stuck together pretty much all day. People got up, showered, dressed and ate. Dog was walked (not by me). Friends of daughter arrived. Errands were run (not by me). About 2:30 I showered and changed out of my cozy pajamas into some cozy sweats (aka daytime pajamas). My toes stayed inside fuzzy slippers. Schnuzzle oh Schnuzzle, I have conquered about 500 of your 1,000 pieces. When the light failed (I like to do Schnuzzle by natural light) I quit and made everyone something to eat for lupper (that's late lunch early supper). The girls were scrapbooking their summer Disneyland adventure and singing warped Elton John lyrics (my fault) so I was entertained. Andy was playing poker online for play money so he was distracted. Alex was programming his new cell phone and watching sports on tv. The dog and cat were sleeping, having eaten their lupper too. Then Andy took the girls to the theatre and Alex laid low (I think he does not want me to ask him to help me with Schnuzzle - although he did agree to read MacBeth with me this coming week, in preparation for his final English 11 assignment). After Andy and the girls left I loaded the dishwasher and put together some foods for the potluck New Year Party we'll go to tonight at Myrna's house. I made a lovely big citrus salad with grapefruit and oranges and mango and pomegranate. I'm also bringing lots of pickled garlic. So I think I have a fighting chance to make it to midnight without coughing. Then again, if I'm feeling crummy I can come home early. Schnuzzle will be here.

question: what are you doing/did you do for New Year's Eve?

mompoet - schnuzzzzzllllle

Friday, December 29, 2006

too funny to let slip by

My dad chased all the links on Matthew Baldwin's Holiday Guide for Slackers. Especially funny is this Sports Illustrated article about a real life experience with "The Beer Belly."

question: did you every sneak something in somewhere where you shouldn't oughta?

mompoet - illicit peanut butter sandwich and carrot stick smuggler from way back

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I got it too

Despite a minimum of smooching, careful direction of coughs and sneezes, conscientious hand-washing and a last-ditch defensive series of echinacia and zinc missile-lobs I have got the cold. Andy was sick with it right through Christmas - sick on the couch and in bed with a headache and coughing his head off every fifteen minutes kind of sick. I am hoping and hoping I won't be sick. I'll settle for scratchy, snotty and sexy-voiced (the only good thing about this bug that I can figure) . I will now go work on a jigsaw puzzle and drink hot water with honey and lemon.

Merry Chrissshhh-blzzzl-snchitz!

bobpoed - that's how I say id wid by node blugged

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

more movies at home for winter break

Last week I watched Scared Sacred, which I missed in the movie theatre. I watched it twice, the second time with Fi. In this documentary, the film-maker, Velcrow Ripper, visits the scenes of humanity's worst atrocities to humanity. He goes to Bosnia, Cambodia, Hiroshima, Israel and Bhopal India. In the middle of making the film, the World Trade Centre bombings happened, so he went to New York too. In each place he talks to survivors about how they find light in the darkness. They tell him how they made it through the worst and darkest days and how they are able to trust, love and find meaning in life after what they have lived through. The answers are what I might have expected - people find the will to live and to keep believing that life is good through art, faith, societal reform, love for one another, helping with the healing of others and making the world safer for the people who survive - but the immediacy of the personal narratives blew me away. I keep playing the interview with Aki from Cambodia over and over in my head. This man was captured by the Khmer Rouge as a young boy. His parents were murdered. He was forced to be a child soldier and plant landmines all over the countryside. He was tortured. He was not allowed to cry. It was a rule that everyone had to smile and laugh, despite their pain and fear. As I watched him smiling through the interview I thought, "This is a broken person. How can he ever be well and whole again?" But then there he is, digging up and disarming landmines - sometimes 50 in one day, to make his country safe again. In the film, he finds a landmine and cheerfully demonstrates where it's safe to touch it and where one must not touch it. He casually slaps it with his hand and his stick before turning it over to remove the fuse. Something about that scene makes me cry even thinking about it. The narrator explains that he has disarmed thousands of these landmines. This is what he does. The film makes a convincing case. It says that for survivors, telling the story of what happened, and contributing to the healing of their place and people is a healing experience for themselves.

Today I watched Elephant. It's the story of high school massacre, shown from the point of view of individual students. As I watched it, I knew where it was leading, and I was dreading it. I was also fascinated by the portrayal of student lives. The camera mostly followed each of the actors around, often just 2 steps behind as they moved from one place to another, and interacted with one another, their parents and teachers. Each character became more intensely human but also surreally robot-like as situations were viewed from 2 or three different perspectives with slightly varied time-frames. The effect was to put me inside what might be the thinking of someone preparing to go into the school and start shooting. As the people in the story looked more and more like Sims characters, the idea of planning and executing a massacre became more intellectual and less real. The climax of the movie makes it all real again, brutally so. This isn't an easy movie to watch, but it is excellent for what it is and does.

Finally, we watched Oliver the 1968 Academy Award winning musical. Well, I watched the first half of the 150 minute movie then went to bed. Fi watched all of it. She'll be in her school production of it this Spring. Holy smokes, that's a good musical. The production numbers are hard to fathom, especially given the age of the film, and no special effects to make the scenery look more grand. The song "Consider Yourself" must have employed 200 dancers, spanned 4 city blocks of studio space with roads, buildings, houses, horses etc and it is over-the-top with creativity. There's a whole section in which butchers are chopping meat and dancing with pieces of it and they become part of the music. It sounds macabre, but it's beautiful! I missed most of the dramatic part of it, quitting at intermission. I'll have to try act 2 some time this week.

question: documentary, drama or musical? which would you choose for your next view?

mompoet - some of each, please

end-of-year-brain haiku

ankle deep in leaves
I peer at bare limbs and think
maple or oak - which?

question: do you ever wonder what you're wondering?

mompoet - duh

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas images



which was the real gift?

If you haven't read my quiz (posted Dec 24), please go there first, or reading this will spoil the fun. If you've been waiting for two days to find out which is the real gift, thank you very much! The answer is right here. If you want to pick one up today. There were tons on the shelf at London Drugs Lougheed Mall in Burnaby on the 23rd. Bet they're on sale now.

question: did you give or receive anything preposterous this Christmas?

mompoet - recycling the wrapping paper and trying to prevent the cat from ingesting ribbons

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Sour Pickle Christmas Treat (because I like bad things)

Of all the songs of Christmastime, the one most often slaughtered by under-qualified singers is O Holy Night. Last night at church our music director sang it beautifully, with power, subtlety and skill, and it was like all of the almost-there and really awful versions I have endured this season were cleansed from the music part of my brain. Thank you Carlan!

That was last night. This morning, I read Matthew Baldwin's Holiday Survival Guide for Slackers. The entire article is great. At the end there's a link to what I think must be the worst O Holy Night I have ever heard. If you listen, please hang in there to the end. I guarantee it will curl your hair and cause your toenails to fall off.

question: how is it that the truly terrible borders on the sublime?

mompoet - delighting in the freakish vulnerability of humanity

Sunday, December 24, 2006

4 lies and 1 silly but true

Which of these five Christmas gifts is real? (the other 4 are made-up)

1. Sassy Hoe-Down Barbeque Pants - double-insulated front and back for 360 degree body protection. Choice of boot cut, clamdigger or stirrup pant styles. Men's and Women's XXS to XXXL. $79.89 ($89.89 or XL and XXXL)US.

2. The Jerky GunTM - Just load up your Jerky Gun with raw ground meat, press the plunger and extrude ribbons of real homestyle beef, pork, salmon, or turkey jerky. Now available - The Jerkey GunTM with spice caddy - add your own mesquite or cajun flavour 19.99CD

3. Auto-Glow Car and Truck Tint - Transform your white, grey or even black automobile with this semi-permanent auto-rinse. Makes a subtle but impressive change to your car's shade for up to 12 shampoos and/or rainshowers. Available in peakcock blue, mango orange, rocket red and key lime. $14.99/gallon (1 gallon will do 1 pickup truck or SUV or 2 small cars).

4. Math-pro Sudoko Helmet - Wear this aerodynamic beauty, and you'll shave minutes from your fastest sudoko times. Made with .02% titanium alloy for maximum synaptic optimization. Sizes: baby genius, child prodigy, smart daddy and fat-head. $234.56 or $789.01 for two.

5. Breast-Max Turkey Conversion Kit - This breakthrough product converts your ordinary turkey from white and dark meat to all white meat with only an 18 hour soak. Includes 1 pint miracle anabolizing enzyme brine mix with measuring beaker and teflon-lined turkey bath to fit up to a 22 pound bird. $7.99US

question: guess which one is an actual product that you could buy someone for Christmas!

mompoet - answer available on Boxing Day (when it will be on sale for half price, no doubt)

today's news

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and the family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke, Chapter 2, verses 1-7

question: have you heard the news?

mompoet - remembering Christmas

Friday, December 22, 2006

me and lyrics

When my parents moved my family to Canada just in time for me to begin kindergarten, one of the first things I learned at school was our country's national anthem. I was so proud to be part of "O Canada, our homo-native land!" This was 1966. To me, "homo-native" was akin to "homogenized" as in milk. I had some hazy idea of all of the people in Canada being shook up together real hard so we'd make a nice uniform consistency - or something like that. I guess I was a word-hound already. I'm sure I knew what homogenized and pateurized meant by that time (and what the difference was between the two).

Even before kindergarten, when I learned the ABC song, I decided that my favourite letter was ala-mano. You know, the letter just before pee.

A little later I was in grade 8 (or thereabouts) at the height of Elton John's popularity. At some point I owned a copy of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but mostly I listened to Elton on CKLG AM Radio, with my tiny, tinny transistor and an earphone for listening in bed. I know Yellow Brick Road came with lyrics - I remember a story-book format with illustrations? But mostly I sang along to slightly fractured versions of his song lyrics. Here are some that I can remember:

Daniel's arriving tonight on a plane
I can see the red-tealed eyes, heading for Spain

***

Rocket man burning up the sleeves of error-gone

***

I remember when rock was young
Me and Suzy had so much fun
Holding hands and skimming stones
Had an Ogo-Shebbee and a fez of my own

***

What do you think you'll do then
I bet they'll shoot down your plane
And it took you a couple of actors in town
To get you on your feet again

***

Even on a Friday that's all right
Evil-astic on a Sa-day night

I know, I was a dork. But remember, there was no internet with instant searchable lyrics, just us 12 year olds, hunched around crummy little radios speculating about "what's he saying anyway?"

Makes me think of one more - also from kindergarten which was in a church because they didn't have them in public schools when I was in kindergarten (this is not Elton John by the way):

Our farmer, who art in heaven
Hal Owen be thine aim.

question: what did you hear wrong?

mompoet - hearing wrong all the time, and sometimes preferring it

Gym 0, Cookies 1


I skipped my manic pedal workout today in favour of baking. I have made almond shortbread and some amazing chocolate chip cookies using a Terry's chocolate orange and some pecans. There's a whole wheat banana loaf too. I'm listening to Elton John and remembering some of the things I thought he was singing when I was a girl, listening to his music on AM radio. I'll post some of my favourite mis-interpretations later today. Right now, the house smells heavenly, the dog is happy because I fed her some pecans, and soon I'll go over to Mom and Dad's for lunch, then Mom and I will make wreaths.

question: do you bake?

mompoet - when I was in a real grump-funk as a teenager, my sweetie would ask me to bake him some cookies because he knew that would cheer me up

Thursday, December 21, 2006

some good things about today

or how I spent my winter solstice day...

1. Dusk was about 4:25 near as I could tell.
2. I remembered to turn on the bread machine.
3. I watched Fellini's 8 1/2 after the kids left for school. I fell asleep a couple of times, but I think I got the general idea. I especially liked the scene where Guido's wife gets mad at him when he's considering an actor to play her part. She's angry that he portrays intimate details of their life in his movies, but slants them so everyone will think he's wonderful.
4. I cleaned up my bedroom and found the theatre tickets that the Poltergeist took away and hid for a few weeks (phew).
5. I washed my new hair and it didn't fall off.
6. I love my new scarf (thanks Laurie!)
7. I got to hold baby Bowen (thanks Rhonda!)
8. We had Thai food for supper.
9. We had supper with Bill and Linda (in town from Calgary), Richard, Chantal and Bernie (Thank you friends!)
10. I have not caught Andy's awful snotty cold (yet).
11. I have almost talked myself into not going to the gym in the morning, and instead baking some Christmas cookies.
12. It's Maya's birthday Friday - Happy Eritrean birthday! I hope you get to paste an "L" on a camel's butt and drive it down the street in celebration of your 16th!

question: how was your solstice day?

mompoet - just deep enough into vacation to be not sure what day of the week it is anymore

solstice morning images


The dawn came just a few minutes before 8am. Welcome to the shortest day of the year.

question: do you feel the solstice?

mompoet - loving the plain beauty and bones of things today

The camel has been put out to pasture

The panto Aladdin previews tonight and opens tomorrow. My half-role as part of a camel has been eliminated. There will be rhinoceros in the camel's place, but I declined a part time rhinoceros role (typecasting?). The show is looking good, and it's actually a relief for me to be just a mom, driver and audience member. I hadn't spent much time preparing, if you don't count my visits to the sauna with a bag of sand, and my trying to drink water only every 6 or 7 days. On the bright side, my hump is shrinking already, and I have almost eliminated my cud-chewing and spitting habit.

Tonight's show (Thursday, December 21) is free for friends and family - all you need to do is say "I'm a friend" when you arrive at the theatre and they'll let you in for free. As it's the first full technical and costumed run-through, there might be a glitch or two. But it's panto so you probably won't know that it wasn't planned that way. Besides, that's the excitement of live theatre!

question: If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?

mompoet - I got my wishes already

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

That question

They're asking it again and I'm still flummoxed for what to say:

ARE YOU READY FOR CHRISTMAS????

This is a question that irritates me on many levels, although I know it is asked in innocence and a spirit of friendly, tired cameraderie. I suppose the correct response is, "No, I still have lots to do." The perfect reply to this is, "Good! I'm not ready either. I'm glad I'm not the only one." But I can't get past the implications within this question. What is ready for Christmas? My evil elf imagination wants to shoot back snarky mean answers to equalize the flummoxing:

  • YES! I am ready for the birth of our Lord and Saviour! Are you?

  • NO! But I'm ready for Easter! For which holiday are you ready?

  • (Sob) We haven't celebrated Christmas since Aunt Gertrude died on Christmas Eve two years ago.

  • Well, I have purchased gifts for my children, except that I can't find a size large blue pair of wool socks for my son, who needs them for curling practice, and I'm still wondering whether my husband would prefer a pair of binoculars or a can opener for Christmas. I have baked 3 kinds of Christmas cookies and put them into seventeen boxes, but I ran out of wax paper after I lined the 11th box. NO make that the 10th box. So I used aluminum foil and I wonder if that will be okay. The tree is 3 or 4 centimeters shorter than I usually like but I guess that will have to do. I have been having difficulty finding the specific kind of ornament hook that I bla bla bla bla bla bla (well, he/she asked)

  • Yup.
I know I should just lighten up, read between the lines and appreciate that people hurry around this time of year, buying gifts, decorating homes, preparing feasts, doing good and charitable acts. That's what's on their minds, so that's what they use in greeting or small talk. But every year it bugs me. Christmas comes at the same time each year. Sometimes some of us buy perfect gifts for lots of people. Sometimes we don't. Sometimes some of us prepare homes and hearths for a warm, gracious family time together. Some years we are smooth, shiny and abundant. Some years we are raggedy. Whatever kind of year and wherever we are in our preparations, Christmas comes. So without dissecting the question and all of the possible meanings and responses any further I'd like to propose that we give this particular question up once and for all.

Some alternatives:

  • Are you ready for a hug?

  • What day is it anyway?

  • Don't you love solstice?

  • Would you like to join us at our house for Christmas?

  • What's your spiritual practice this time of year?

  • Where'd you get that sparkle in your eye?

  • I'm going to Costco this afternoon. Can I pick anything up for you?

  • Would you mind sharing your recipe for eggnog?

  • Have you seen my mitten?

Any of these would be a lovely way to check in with a friend or acquaintance at holiday time, and much less loaded that the "Are you ready..." question.

question: Have you seen my mitten?

mompoet - ready for anything whatever that means

ps - After Christmas, please don't ask, "Was Santa good to you?"

Monday, December 18, 2006

the syllable diet

You have to eat food only with a certain number of syllables each day:

Mon/Wed/Friday - four syllable foods only
(examples - amaretto, pomegranate, arugula, capuccino)

Tuesday/Thursday - three syllable foods
(examples - pineapple, bruschetta, artichokes)

Saturday/Sunday - freestyle add-up day - the food on your plate must add up to count out a prime number of syllables
(example - ham and eggs - 3 syllables - OKAY)
(example - soy sauce - 2 syllable - OKAY)
(example - ham and eggs and soy sauce - 6 syllables - NOT ALLOWED)
(example - ham and eggs and mayonnaise - 7 syllables - OKAY)

question: have you tried it?

mompoet - I think I just made it up. I'm not going to try it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Good show, Okay show

Saturday afternoon I went with my mom and dad to see A Christmas Carol at the Vancouver Playhouse. It was breathtaking. It was a musical, but not the holly jolly type. More like a kind of semi-macabre light opera with a huge focus on death and ample black comedy but also several definite crying places. The set was minimalist - a bare stage with what looked like a huge paper scroll coming down from the back wall and rolled out across the floor. The lighting changed to convey various settings and moods in an abstract surreal way. Musicians played and sound effects were made on stage, as the actors used their bodies for set pieces and mimed all of the props. (If you saw No Great Mischief a couple of years ago, it was the same sort of approach to set and props). People were beds, chairs, carriages and doors when they weren't being people, and everyone except the actor who played Scrooge played more than one character, including a boy Scrooge and a young man Scrooge. The Ghost of Christmas past was hijacked from a Leaky Heaven Circus Show. Christmas Present came from a beer commercial. Christmas Future was downright ghoulish. Aside from the ghosts, the characters dressed in Dickens-period mourning costumes, but they spoke modern vernacular, with a few key phrases from the story woven in to their dialogue and the songs. I won't say any more but that you must go if you have the chance. Oooo oooo oooo - much better than I expected.

Saturday evening I went with Andy and Alex to see The Pursuit of Happyness. I'm not a Will Smith movie fan, preferring small stories with big heart to special effects battles and chase scenes. This movie promised to be something else, a serious, dramatic break from the typical Will Smith. It was pretty good, but basically exhausting. Will Smith literally runs through this whole movie, which chronicles six months in the (true) life of a failed small businessman who gets an internship at a big financial company. He has to be the best of 20 interns and take care of his young son single-handedly and he has the worst luck. So we see him running for coffee for his boss, running for the bus, running to the daycare, running to get a place to live... you get the idea. In one scene he is hit by a car but he doesn't have time to be injured. He just gets up and goes back to work, minus the shoe that was knocked off his foot in the collision. The storyline was relentless. Even the tender moments with his son were fraught with anxiety about what had just happened and what might happen next. It was just too much like some of my bad dreams to be entertaining. I needed a shift in pace or focus. Instead I felt like I'd just run a marathon right beside Will. Maybe just a different kind of chase scene without special effects?

So I can't recommend it, unless you are searching for something to raise your stress level vicariously for a couple of hours. Maybe you'll like it better than I did. I just don't like running movies. I didn't like Back to the Future either for the same reason - fever pitch panic from start to finish. Ugg.

That's all for now. The kids took over decorating the tree this year and they want me to come in and see their work.

question: Have you seen any good plays or movies lately?

mompoet - two shows in one day - pretty darn lucky!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A day without electricity is quiet and nice

Big windstorms knocked out our electrical power overnight Thursday. Andy left for work Friday morning in the dark just after 4am, and nearly took the lid off his car rounding a bend on the Barnet Highway driving under a fallen tree that lay across the road, thankfully a few inches higher than the top of our car. I awoke at 6:30 to light candles and hand out the flashlights that Andy had lined up for us before he left.

The schools were closed, so the kids and I ate cold cereal for breakfast and marvelled at the quiet. No furnace, fridge, tv, toaster, dishwasher, washing machine, computer! I figured out that I could heat water for coffee on the side burner of our barbeque outside, so we had hot coffee. Then we bundled up in the chilly house and were quiet. I did my usually end of the week tidy up, returning the distributed evidence of our week to its proper drawers, closets and bedrooms and took out the trash and recycling. Alex read 2 newspapers and the latest MAD magazine. Fi made Christmas cards. Then we all played a game of Simpson's Clue (it was Bart, in the Springfield Retirement Village, with the plutonium rod).

When it became evident that there would be no power for lunch, the kids informed me that mac and cheese on the barbeque burner was not what they had in mind, and besides, there was Christmas shopping to do. So we drove to the mall, which had power. I helped Fi buy all her presents. Alex bought a couple then bused home, not being one for marathons in crowds. We ate lunch at the food court. Later we found out that Lougheed Mall was closed, so that explained why absolutely everybody was at Coquitlam Centre. I think I'm done with mall shopping, which makes me happy.

On the way back home we discovered that some neighbourhoods still had no power. We also found out that evening dance class and rehearsal were cancelled, but power was back at our house. So Andy cooked a yummy supper, and we enjoyed a family movie evening. I was asleep before 10.

It was a bit inconvenient, and slightly dangerous in one part, but I liked this day. It was like a gift of time stopped and an opportunity to listen to quiet for a few hours. The mall part was raucous but necessary, as it took allowed us to get some crucial business done in a lot less of a hurry than otherwise, and there was a very nice ending.

question: were you electrical or non-electrical on Friday?

mompoet - did you notice it snowed?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Almost on vacation

I have about 29 minutes more worth of work to do before I am on vacation. I almost finished up today, by going back to the office after suppertime, but I had to leave to pick up Fi from rehearsal before I did one last bit of essential office stuff. So I'll sneak back in wearing sweats and a smile on Friday morning and do the last bit of work on my first day of break, then head on out. Fi says I should do something extra Christmassy for myself on the way home just because.

One great thing (among many, really when I think about my work). When I logged back on to my computer this evening I got an email from the wellness committee with an ad for a new round of subsidized massages. About once a year, students from the local massage school come in and do employee wellness massages. We attend on our lunch hour, and we pay, but just $15 for a 55 minute ahhhhhhhhh! Once, I went in with a bad head cold and the masseuse massaged my face and scalp for the whole time. When I got up I could breathe again and I felt so much better. Another time I had just a back/shoulder/arm massage that made me feel about 4 inches taller when we were done.

The weird part is the setup - about 8 massage tables in one big room with low lights and warm temperature. You can stay fully clothed, but most everyone unwraps a bit. With just a sheet between me and my bra and a bunch of brothers and sisters from city hall, I'm always surprised that it doesn't feel more intimidating. But everyone's just into their own experience and there's no ogling that I've ever noticed. Once you lie down on the massage table you forget everything else.

Oooo I can hardly wait.

question - Did you find any unanticipated treats today?

mompoet - uncurling

ps - Three WEEKS. Yes! I have 3 weeks off work. three three three!!!

Elf You-self!

My friend Irene Livingston just showed me how to make myself into an elf.

question: If you could be a small magical creature, which kind would you be?

mompoet - elf for now

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

haiku from my car

right case - wrong music
random aural daisy chain
CD surprise me

question: where'd I put the...?

mompoet - frequently surprised, frequently delighted

wordless wednesday

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

home

We had the most amazingly slow-motion love-ly weekend on the Sunshine Coast, Andy and I. And now we are home and I do love our home. I will post photos (but not the ones we took in the hot tub) on Monday. In the meantime, we're home, and there's no place like home.

question: why is home even sweeter when you come back to it after a few days away?

mompoet - hugging my kids, petting my dog, looking for the cat

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

rock you

Dooce just pointed me at this rock video starring Arlo.

question: rock you?

mompoet - shoutin in the street I gonna take on the world some day

This sound that I love

I arrived 30 minutes early to pick our daughter up from rehearsal. I was pooped from not enough sleep Monday night, and here it was 9:30pm on a work/school night. I sat down on the stairs just inside the rehearsal room door and opened my book. Then I heard it: a small group walk-through/talk-through of dance steps - counting, stepping, repeating; intermittent blasts of Rockin' the Casbah from a portable stereo; excited chatter on the sidelines; choreographer's coaching voice teaching a bit of business to two girls in the front, a half-dozen female voices raised in a capella union - improbably beauty amidst this happy din. I closed my eyes, but not because I was tired. I just let it wash over me, this mish-mash of sounds of people doing just what they want to do. I heard the nervous, excited buzz of a room full of actors each doing his or her own thing but all pointed in the same direction, getting ready, a show about to gel, Aladdin about to be born.

question: what did you hear today?

mompoet - finding treasure wherever I stop

2 more sleeps

More to love about this time of year: a small cabin at the bottom of a cliff (there are stairs). Inside the cabin, a fireplace, small kitchen, no phone, no tv. A porch so close to the ocean that you can't see the land at the edge of the sea. A hot tub on the deck. Three days, two nights. Just Andy and me.

It's time for us to take our Fall trip to a not-too-far-away getaway. We'll leave Friday afternoon and come back Sunday evening. ahhhh

question: now do you see why I love this time of year?

mompoet - better book the ferry

Monday, December 04, 2006

Advent

Here's a poem I wrote a couple of years ago. I've posted it before, but this is a slight revision, and it's time again, and I still feel the same way I felt when I wrote this.

Advent


I.

Slicing crusty rolls for late fall supper
Serrated slip splits open palm
Bread absorbs crimson and she
Flushes with heated riptide
Hurricane-centred
Compelled by shock of recognition
Of one thing, she is sure:
Hurt’s the friend who never lets you down.
As she cleans the counter
Discards buns, rinses the blade,
Hope
Uninvited
Gently lifts a tattered corner and slides
Under the carpet
Stays stuck, insisting
There is more.


II.

Sipping coffee as the dishwasher hums she reads
New York Times online
Glazes over grim stories of places she can
Barely picture
Skips to an article comparing
Relative merits of $50 fruitcakes.
Downstairs, children bicker over Nintendo.
Is there no moment of quiet?
Not here, unless…
Draining her cup she
Rises
Goes to join their game.
As they unite in enjoyment of her
Joystick ineptitude
She finds that moment
Amid gales of laughter
When she asks if Zelda is one of Cinderella’s stepsisters.
Peace
Is possible.

III.

She hates the market
Beelines for milk, macaroni, broccoli
Remembers eggs. Doubles back.
Wonders at slow-shopping lovers selecting artichokes and brie.
At the deli counter the usual
Four hundred grams of black forest
“Would she like anything else today?
Only to break free and run into the night shouting
MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN SANDWICHES!
Plastic handle finger cuts
Misplaced key
She rumbles home, grapefruits rolling in the trunk.
He’s parked his car on the road
Left the carport for her
And at the door, a happy shout
Smiling dog follows her downstairs.
Nothing else matters.
Love
Is here.


IV.

There is no umbrella for
Joy
It falls in silly fat droplets
Splashing, drenching.
Music teacher plays bongo rhythms as the choir
Sings a Caribbean carol.
Believing isn’t a choice.
It washes her with giddy, reckless, gladness. She
Lifts her voice with the congregation
On this, the shortest
And happiest of days
Knowing
All that is solitary and sad
Can be turned right-side-up in
Community.
The fourth candle flares,
She is aflame
With wakening light.


question: what do you do this time of year?

mompoet - one candle burning

Double As (Maybe Triple) Movie Reviews

In a hurry at the video store I abandoned my list and just plunged into the "foreign" section beginning with the letter A. I took the first 3 movies that were interesting and in the store.

At Five O'Clock in the Afternoon is a movie about a young woman named Nogreh in post-Taliban Afghanistan. She sneaks away from the traditional Islamic school that her father takes her to every day and attends a modern school where her teacher encourages the girls and women to discuss politics and debate the place of women in Afghan Society. Nogreh decides that she would like to be the president of Afghanistan. We see her exploring this idea in conversation with people she meets. We also see her family's desperate struggle to survive. Finding a place to live and food to eat, searching for lost loved ones and trying to make sense of what has happened to her country seem outside of the realm of possibility for Nogreh and her family. Like the other movies about Afghan life that I have seen, this one is sad, brave, hopeful and ironic. The words of a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca run through it.

I haven't seen Federico Fellini's Amarcord since I was a teenager. At the time I didn't get it. I loved it this time. It reminded me of the movie A Christmas Story in many ways. This movie of boyhood remembrance of life in fascist Italy is funny and sad and enigmatic. I love the characters and the situations and its seeming simplicity and mish-mash juxtaposition of scenes. I especially love the scene where Titta's uncle climbs a tree, refuses to come down and shouts "I want a woman!" and the scene where Titta pursues the sexy Grandisca through a maze of snow in the town square. Everything seems exaggerated and overplayed, but I think that's how it must have seemed to a teenage boy at the time. Oh yes! there's a scene where a giant Mussolini-head made of flowers performs a fantasy wedding ceremony for one of Titta's friends. I would like to watch this again very soon.

The third A is a Japanese movie called Afterlife, about a waiting/processing place between life and death. I will watch it some time this week. So far I'm liking the A section.

question: seen any good movies lately?

mompoet - random, exaggerated and realistic

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I love advent

We lit our first advent candle at church this morning. I did the reading and Alex lit the candle. We began singing the carols at the front of the hymn book, the ones meant for the season of advent and Christmas. The colours of the cloths and Tim's stole changed to blue (my favourite). The church was warm and bright and filled with love and expectation. There was even a baptism and communion (which we have only on special days in our church). It was a wonderful, wonderful morning.

I'm beginning to piece together some more reasons why I love this time of year, and I think advent is part of it. Longing for joy and spiritual awakening, and expecting with confidence that it will come are at the heart and soul of this time of year. It's linked to the change of seasons for sure, and the associated changes in social life, body chemistry, work cycles, sleep and waking.

I think what I'm discovering is that all of the things that are happening are connected to reinforce each other in all realms of reality - our physical life, society, nature, intellect, and the spirit. When all of those forces come together the experience is deep and powerful.

And maybe that explains why I love the colour blue, and why I'm so delighted to have my birthday at this time of year, and why I am an optimist, but also restless, curious and inventive, especially now. It has be more than a coincidence. It is a coinciding of things bigger than all of us and I am blessed to have my heart opened just a bit more to what it means.

question: do you feel it?

mompoet - happy

dreams caused by a second quilt or otherwise

It's cold enough I put quilt #2 on the bed last night, which resulted (I think) in strange dreams.

#1
I am going somehwere important but my horse is sick. The vet comes and does surgery to fix my horse. The horse has an incision running the length of her body, now stitched up, but the vet says she'll be okay. She's resting. I think about the important place I'm going. I must have an offering for the important people so I decide I will bring them marijuana (?) I'm conscious in my dream that I have never smoked marijuana in my life (true in real life) but it will be good for me to bring some. The vet - who has morphed into a familiar friend from daytime life - gives me some. Before I visit the important ones, I go to the bank machine to get money to pay for the marijuana and the vet's services. When I get back I am concerned about the horse, who is still resting. I pry open the incision with my hands to look inside. The vet returns and stitches the horse back up again, all the while explaining that everything will be okay. I am upset with myself for just about everything, but my friend/the vet reassures me.

#2
There are about 25 people in my kitchen. I am having a party. Suddenly I remember I must bake a treat for the Parent Advisory Council meeting at the high school, and make a casserole for the church supper. I begin cooking, but the people are getting in my way. Despite it all I bake a batch of brownies but then I realise that I have to rudely tell my friends they may not eat them, and also that I made brownies last time for the PAC meeting and it wouldn't be cool to repeat. Then I remember - NO! Last time I made biscotti so it's okay.

#3
I am now making the casserole. Alex, our 16 year old, helps. I get upset with him for the way he is cooking the rice so I dump the half-cooked rice in the sink. Then I find out we have no more rice to start over again, so I'm scooping half cooked rice out of the sink and dumping it back in the pot and washing it, and trying to figure out how much water to add to make it work.

Question: what causes vivid dreams?

mompoet - more than tv or books or radio, almost all of the time

Saturday, December 02, 2006

saturday afternoon haiku

each tiny hair-death
one pluck closer to beauty
office party brows

question: do you think anyone really notices?

mompoet - never a "uni" but often well-canopied (not today!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

They're closing our schools again

Here's the story.

Six years ago we neighbours fought to keep our little elementary school open. With fewer than 200 students and a yawning quarter-empty bigger school a couple of blocks away, it was a tough sell. We held meetings, got kids to make art, posted lawn signs, had a pajama party on the radio, got testimonials from realtors and educators, parents and kids and successfully made our case to the Board of School Trustees. The victory was bittersweet as 3 other schools were closed, at least one in a neighbourhood where I think the impact on families was worse, due to its comparitive isolation. We also realised that money to run a greater number of partly-full schools took away from funds for teaching and other resources.

When the decision was announced to keep our school open a few years ago, the Trustees cautioned us that they would not re-open the issue every year, but that it would be re-visited in the future. The tentative plan was to leave it open for at least one whole student cycle. A child in kindergarten at the time of the decision would be able to carry on through grade 5 before closure would be re-considered. We have almost made it. The re-opening of the issue is no surprise.

Here's our little school.

A school is more than a place where kids go from 9-3 to learn academic subjects. As we clarified to ourselves last time, it's the heart of a community for families with children. Our social and volunteer lives are anchored in the school, as is a big part of our sense of security in guiding our children and our growing up families. It's hard to imagine letting our school go, and moving into a new, unknown school with people we don't know.

Alex and Fi have left that little school for the middle and secondary schools, but many of our friends still have children there. I'll do my best to support the efforts underway to try to keep it open, but it doesn't look as hopeful this time.

question: what have you loved and feared losing?

mompoet - sad about this

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

haiku

under snow blanket
rhododendron leaves folded
like hands in prayer


question: does "prayer" have one or two syllables?

mompoet - thinking in haiku it must be two

I remember you

I bustled in late to a training session for our new time reporting system at work. The session was underway so I just nodded to the people on either side of me - two co-workers I had not met before.

A few minutes later I breathed a semi-voluntary "yes!" to something the trainer said. The woman beside me looked over and whispered, "I know you! The last time I saw you, you were dressed up as a chicken!"

This left me wondering who she is, and where we met. I admit, I have dressed up like a chicken more than once, at work yet.

question: what do you do when someone remembers you, but you don't remember her?

mompoet - cluck cluck, I don't remember your name! cluck, cluck

letting go by degrees

Yesterday morning, with 6 inches of snow on the ground, I haggled with our son about footwear. In case you don't know how it is with teenagers and footwear, here's how it is: they disagree with their mom. period.

I told him he needed to wear something snow-proof on his feet for the 1km walk to school. "You'll be so uncomfortable, and you might even get frostbite." I warned. After a bit of arguing he walked to school wearing hiking boots, with his trusty running shoes in his backpack.

So our daughter (who listened to the whole discussion) has already left for school before our son goes out the door. With everyone gone, I tidy up the scatter of boots in the entryway. Hmmm, there are our daughter's boots. Wonder what she wore to school? Running shoes?

So today everyone can wear whatever they please. They might be uncomfortable but I think that frostbite is a bit of an exaggeration.

question: so, do you think I'm being too much of a mom?

mompoet - I have 2 pairs of boots. If I could, I would wear them both simultaneously.

Monday, November 27, 2006

snow pics





















Beautiful day, eh?

mompoet - warm toes and camera in my pocket wherever I go

up early in the warm with snow outside

shhhh It's beautiful and quiet outside my house, but I'd better listen to the radio

Oh no - cars are slipping and sliding and the man on the radio says "If you don't have to go anywhere, don't." That's good enough for me.

We made it through the snow last night to a banjo-popping earthy hot and wonderful concert at the Cultch. My roots wuz jumpin' up and down all night. When we got outside we discovered about 3 inches of new snow. There was snow on the road all of the way home, but hardly any cars so we drove slowly slowly home from Vancouver to Port Moody. We got up the hill to home and I crawled into bed at midnight. My little Honda with 4 snow tires and two brave women did just fine. And talking to Myrna I kept calm. I told her if I had been by myself I would have been singing my head off just to keep steady.

Now this morning there's more and more and more snow. The dog went out for 2 minutes to pee, and came back in with a white blanket on her back.

The radio will tell me if the kids are expected to go to school. I'll work from my dining room table. Tomorrow is another day. In the meantime I don't need to go anywhere, so I won't.

question: where do you go in the snow?

mompoet - going now to phone Andy who had to start work at 4am - I hope his drive in was safe and slither-free

Sunday, November 26, 2006

delight upon delight


It always snows before my birthday, and yesterday it snowed. Andy and I had plans for my birthday supper out, but I got worried that we might get snowed in so I stopped in at the grocery store and bought everything for a special family supper in case we got stuck. But by suppertime it was just snowing and not sticking so we went out and had a great supper and watched the snow falling (but not sticking) through the restaurant window. When we got home it was so cozy and wintry we went to bed early. Andy woke up at 4 (his usual go-to-work time) but I slept in until 9. What luxury to sleep for over 10 hours! It snowed and rained on and off through the night, and it's snowing this morning, and sticking, but not accumulating too seriously, which is good. This afternoon, one of us needs to drive Fi to a rehearsal on the North Shore (where it really snows) and one of us has to take Alex for a job interview. Then tonight I'm going to a concert, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Supper at Michele's house on Friday was lovely and relaxed. Michele and her husband Brent are renovating a 1912 house in New Westminster. It's a tremendous amount of work for them, and it's turning out spectacularly. Michele always lives in the coolest places. Given my choice of where to sit and enjoy a meal and a glass of wine, Michele's house is always #1. I know I said I don't need presents, but Michele and Kathy got me some. Kathy gave me a very homely Christmas angel ornament that she said only I could love, and a bag of jelly belly jelly beans and Sarah McLachlin's new Christmas CD, Wintersong. I really like the CD. It's all very mellow and has a beautiful and unusual alto-line version of "What Child is This." Michele gave me a bottle of wine and tickets to "Diggin' our Roots" with Po Girl at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre - tonight. So I'm hoping the snow will not be too bad, because Michele and Myrna and I are going. Michele also baked me a chocolate birthday cake that she poked and filled up with butterscotch schnapps (mmm). I gave Kathy and Michele candy apple red nailpolish so they can have red toenails for Christmas.

On Friday afternoon I packed a day's worth of work into my briefcase and emailed some documents home, so if it snows a lot tonight I can work from home on Monday. I guess I'm sounding like a real wimp in the snow. The truth is, we live on a hill that doesn't get plowed until the very last of all the roads, and while I'm fine out on the main roads I live in fear of sliding out onto the highway from our steep and unplowed sidestreet and/or not being able to get back up the hill to our house at the end of the day. I do have 4 snow tires on the car and I do want to get to the concert tonight, and Myrna will drive with me and is a strong and inspiring presence, so I have a hunch we'll make it tonight. Just the same, I'll pack boots, gloves and a ski jacket in the trunk in case we have to walk a ways.

In the meantime I am lounging in my pajamas, drinking coffee, and beginning to read The Red Tent. I finished The Time Traveller's Wife. It was spectacular, and a first novel for Audrey Niffeneger, so I can't wait to see what she does next. For a while anyway, let it snow.

question: with what delights has this weekend greeted you?

mompoet - twinkling

Friday, November 24, 2006

treats and love and fun

When I was little, I thought Christmas was about me. My birthday is less than a month before Christmas, and my celebration always seemed like the thing that opened the door to all of the merry-making. This is probably one of the reasons I like this time of year so much. It's pretty much a non-stop bonanza of treats and indulgences until January 1. Another thing that happens (probably because I like it) is the "stretch" birthday. It starts happening a few days before the actual day, and carries on for a few more after.

Today I will begin my birthday. Kathy and Michele (the ones who took me pole dancing last year) have invited me to supper at Michele's house. I'm pretty sure there's no pole dancing on the menu this year, but Michele also wants me for something for Sunday night. This is the same Michele who kidnapped me after work one year on my birthday and took me for candle-lit November picnic with a campfire at a local park, so anything could happen.

I'll go out Saturday evening for a nice supper with Andy, and my Mom's cooking supper on Wednesday (my actual birthday) to celebrate with Mom, Dad, Andy and the kids, then the ladeez in the 'hood have asked me to come for supper next Friday. At our office we have a tradition you have to bring your own cake on your birthday, but I'll take the day off to go on Alex's field trip, so I'll have a bit of an office birthday on Tuesday or Thursday, depending when I feel like baking. Finally, my birthday-almost-twin Louise and I will go for lunch on December 8. We've shared a lunch at the same restaurant for almost 20 years on "our" birthday. So all in all that makes for a 2-week long stretch birthday. Then there's Christmas.

I don't need presents, but I do love the celebrations. Treats and love and fun. Yeah.

question: how do you observe your birthday?

mompoet - Happy birthday to me, and to Louise and to Mary Anne - both celebrating today, November 24

Thursday, November 23, 2006

coming soon to a Value Village thrift store near you

Taking its inspiration from the demise of the glass canopy over the Plaza of Nations, the "Expo Jean Jacket" featured earlier this year in "keep it? or chuck it?" is gone. I put it out yesterday for Canadian Diabetes used clothing pickup. I told Fi it was her early Christmas present (my getting rid of the jacket, that is). I kept that thing around for 20 years in all its flashy-80s-big-shouldered-zipperiness. It didn't hurt a bit, seeing it go out the door and onto the big truck.

In other news, I decided to keep the swan salt cellars. They were a wedding present after all. The exercise bike is going over to my mom and dad's place. The giraffe is still lurking - probably a Christmas vacation project. Maybe we'll mail him to the Serengetti where he can be re-introduced to the wild.

question: what will I do now when I want to embarass my children?

mompoet - hokey enough to embarrass with gusto, even without the bad coat

as near as I can tell

the best thing to do when you are facing fears, pedalling as fast as you can with your head just above water in the dark, nearing exhausting, considering surrender to hopelesness is

love

yourself first then everyone around you and especially the special ones

the only thing you have to lose is the opportunity

question: how is it I forget how lucky I am with such frequency?

mompoet - surrounded by love every day

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

for cathy

Chicken and Corn Chowder

1 medium onion, diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 cups chicken stock
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 small cans creamed corn
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

2 cups homo milk
salt and pepper
grated cheddar

Saute the chicken breast until it's cooked. Chop or shred it and set aside. Saute the onion and the garlic. Add the chicken broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Mash the potatoes partially. Stir in the creamed corn and frozen corn and chicken meat. Heat to a boil. Remove from heat, add the milk and season to taste. Do not boil again once the milk has been added.

Top with grated cheese if you like.

Add hot sauce if you want it zippy.

Variation - Use some crumbled crispy bacon instead of chicken breast or for a veggie version skip the meat altogether and use vegetable broth. The cheese should provide enough protein.

Fast, easy and filling.

question: what soup do you like best?

mompoet - thanks for the chickpea curry Cathy - I ate it for breakfast!

a parcel for eritrea

I have a package for the mail today. Barb has requested Canada pins. She and Kim hand them out to their students. Our MLA, Dawn Black, gave me a big bag of pins and a Canadian flag. I am also sneaking them a dvd. They recently acquired a dvd player. If you put a dvd in the parcel out in the open it might be confiscated by the censors, so I have concealed it inside the cover of a notebook. If it gets through successfully using this ploy, I will send more.

What video? Canadian Bacon, starring John Candy. Might as well stick with the theme, eh?

question: have you mailed any Christmas parcels?

mompoet - going to buy a big chocolate bar before I seal the thing up. Must always include chocolate in all parcels to Africa.

A good day

I have to work Saturday at the Finale of Saturday Storytime at the Mall (it's a literacy project where we bring a storyteller in to the mall once a month, with a tie-in to a visit to the library afterwards - they love it!). That gave me Monday off work. I love a day when everyone else is doing their usual routines and I get to freestyle during that time period. No special treats or pampering, but several very nice things emerged to make a very satisfying day:

  • Mom returned from India. I let Dad have her all to himself for the day but we talked on the phone.
  • Irene phoned. I always like it when she does.
  • The drier repairman came and fixed the clothes drier which has been broken since Thursday. phew.
  • I got all of the backed-up orthodontics claim forms filled out and ready to go in the mail (that means we will get some money back).
  • I cleared off two computer desks and the table in the hallway that were filled with miscellaneous junk.
  • I organized the volunteer list and schedule for the Christmas recital (4 shows and a dress rehearsal, about 25 parents per show so it's a big list!)
  • I read my novel for about 2.5 hours total. It's The Time Traveller's Wife. I'm loving it.
  • Kirsi came over for tea. I always love when she does.
  • The ladeez are planning birthday supper for me. They are peaches and jewels and treasures in my life.
  • I waited for Alex after school. He took us on an errand and for a practice drive. He is getting to be quite a confident and skilled driver.
  • I finally remembered to book a couple of appointments that I usually only remember in the middle of the night.
  • I made corn chowder and grilled cheese sandwiches for supper.
  • Dog and I went for a long walk and it wasn't raining.
  • I had my first chai tea of the cold and damp season. mmmm
  • I went to bed at 10.
Nothing spectacular, but the day felt like a good balance between productivity and rest. I got a bunch of things crossed off my nagging "to do" list. I stayed home pretty much all day except for the driving with Alex. It was a good day.

Question: what do you do when you have a "discretionary day?"

mompoet - not jealous of anyone's couch just now

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Welcome home Mom!

My Mom has been exploring India for a month. She flies into Vancouver on Monday morning. I will be very happy to see her. My Dad will be even more so!

Welcome home Mom!

Welcome home Mom!

Welcome home Mom!

question: why is home really home when your mom comes home?

mompoet - daughter of mompoet's mom

Two photographs


The broadleaf maple tree is my favourite, located on my walk behind the house. I have loved it for years. In summer it provides a big patch of shade for salmonberry and huckleberry bushes. When the kids were little we spent lots of time under this tree, exploring and foraging. Now I like to look at it every morning when I'm out with the dog. It changes all the time. This year, birds made a nest in its branches.
The rose is blooming in our garden in November. Our friends gave it to us about 14 years ago when we lost a baby mid-pregnancy. At the time, it felt good to plant and grow something to remember a sad time and also as a symbol of hope and the sureness of living things. Now I just love the tenacity and delicate beauty of this rose. And if we'd had that baby we would not have Fiona.
These are the things I saw on my walk yesterday.
question: what sights and signs are yours today?
mompoet - pieces of the cosmos sliding in to place, I think

Friday, November 17, 2006

something about this time of year

Despite my current blip of discombobulation, I am loving this time of year. The slide into Winter Solstice is dizzying and delicious with sensory and emotional wonders all along the way. Late fall has always been my favourite time.

Almost constant rain, sudden and early darkness, skies heavy and low by day. There's an excitement in the contrast between interior and exterior, warm and cool, wet and dry, dark and light that excites my senses more than any glorious sunrise or day that goes on and on. Bright colours look best on a dark background. All that is bright and good and safe and warm can be seen so clearly these days.

I know it's a time of increased hardship for homeless people and those who suffer from seasonal depression, but I love this time of year for myself. Wet or dry, cold or mild, there's not a chance of Indian Summer, no turning back. Only one direction - onward to the longest night.

question: what is your favourite time of year?

mompoet - only 12 days until my birthday

Thursday, November 16, 2006

things that made me feel good today

  • my phone did not ring at work today (well, it did once or twice, but not incessantly with multiple voicemails showing after every call)
  • my good friend Cathy read this morning's post and brought me a gift of chickpea curry and the secret to perfect bluejeans for us peasant-legged types
  • the book I had a hold on was ready for me at the library and I remembered to pick it up
  • organic spring greens with wine vinegar, olive oil and some nice feta
  • my warm winter coat
  • my son's even warmer coat for the dog walk this morning (mom's perogative to hijack son's coat whenever she pleases)
  • on the subject of coats, we found the coat for Fi's Christmas recital at the very first V.V. Boutique that we visited, then we had fun finding lots of really awful coats and threatening to wear them in public.
  • some pretty bad shoes too, and a device called "Sit and Spin" (I do not exaggerate)
  • a Great Dane leaned on me and smiled
  • Ugly Betty is on TV tonight
  • somebody told me I look beautiful
  • remembering The Sound of Music hilarious crew show 30 years ago when Fiona asked about when I was in musical theatre
  • the dog stole a box of chocolate almonds from my briefcase in the middle of the night and ate them all and she didn't barf or poo all over the house while we were at work and school today (phew and thank goodness for poor quality chocolate that is harmless to dogs)
  • kudos from 2 bosses on the email first thing this morning for our team project at work (a presentation at the Parks Commission meeting last night)
  • no more nights out this week
  • Andy cooked supper so I could sit and post blog when I got home and wait for supper to be ready
That's pretty good for just one day. Now supper's ready.

question: what made you feel good today?

mompoet - well, now a bath with candles would be just a perfect ending, wouldn't it?

nesting

One of the signs that I am overwhelmed is when the phone is for me and I resent it.

Normally I feed on the energy of the people around me, and feel good about feeling good with people and them feeling good with me. I'm feeling that other inclination these days, which is a sign of needing a rest. The other sign is when my normally absolutely unbelievably good luck turns around.

On Tuesday I had a minor car crash. A lady was distracted by her kids in the back seat, and slid into the back of my car on a wet road. We're all okay, and the cars weren't even damaged because I saw her coming and moved forward as much as I could before she hit. But to me, that's another sign that I'm overextending myself to the edge of where the going is good. It's like God or the cosmos saying, "take a different path."

Also, I notice myself being jealous of really mundane things. Like driving in the car I see a house, with the lights on in the living room and some people sitting on the couch and I say to myself, "I wish I could just be sitting on the couch." I remember this impulse at its silliest, back when I was a student teacher, having an absolutely terrible practicum, doubting my ability to function effectively, I drove past the old Oakalla Prison every morning where the guards were on strike and picketing. I said to myself, "I wish I was a prison guard on strike and not a student teacher." Now how silly is that?

So now I have to back up and listen to the little voice that is probably just telling me to spend fewer nights out and more time at home. I also have to take a look at work and do some re-framing so I'm not feeling like I'm hitting the ground running every morning, and squishing my office door shut on yelping undone tasks at the end of every day.

I have the power to feel better. Enjoying zesty days is my forte. I just have a bit of work to do right now. I'll start with some nesting. Family, book, couch, bed, answering machine - all good.

question: do you ever notice yourself sliding?

mompoet - time for self-care

slam decathlon































Our amazing The Svelte Ms Spelt organized a Slam Decathlon as a fundraiser for the Individual World Poetry Slam that we'll host in Vancouver in February. More than a dozen poets formed two teams and competed playfully in events like cupcake haiku, scrabble, and box of doom cover slam. As you can see, there was also a puppet show, mime and a cowbell. It was a night of stepping out of the box for a good cause. Good fun-raising and fund-raising.

Hooray for the Vancouver Poetry Slam and especially for Ms Spelt, who is also Artistic Director of iWPS 2007 in Vancouver.

Question: would you rather cupcake haiku or more cowbell?

mompoet - puppet-maker to the poets

Monday, November 13, 2006

quiet

it is impossibly quiet for 10 in the morning
upstairs, the son and the husband slumber
in the basement 4 girls and a dog
the dog is especially happy
(denning is a rare treat)
this morning I opened the front door quietly to get the newspaper
everything helped
even the coffee-maker whispered
and the cat stopped yelling because I fed her very quickly
I turned off the speakers so no one would hear the Windows fanfare
checked quiet email
drank water not too cold
so no shock waves would stir the sleepers
but now
cinnamon buns are shouting molecules of of joy up and down the stairs
tantalizing sleepy brains to rise
rise like bread dough
pop out like popovers
rub crusty eyes and stumble
up stairs or down
to the centre of the house
where I'm mixing gooey white frosting
and saying
Good Morning!
yes! they're almost ready
let's have some now
we'll go skating today

question: when do you find quiet?

mompoet - I love long weekends

Sunday, November 12, 2006

the house isn't there any more

We dropped Fi off to a rehearsal in North Vancouver today and I realised we were just a couple of blocks from the house where I lived when I was in grade 3. So Andy and I drove up the street to find the neighbourhood. The house has been replaced with a much bigger house, which is too bad, but not surprising. That house had such a cool back yard, with pathways and a fabulous tire swing and rope swing suspended from a beam between two cedar trees. The house is on a corner, with the front yard sloping down to the road. I remember in the summer we slid down the long grass on flattened cardboard boxes. The ditches have been filled in. We used to excavate down there, and catch tiny snails in jars. The alley is still unpaved, with blackberry brambles up the back, which is beautiful. The secondary school and elementary school are still where they belong. I remember buying 5 Archie comics (when they were still extra-large format) at a fun fair at that secondary school for 25cents. I thought I was the queen of the world. Down the street, the old grocery store and the thrift store and the movie theatre are long gone. There's a PetroCan and a Save On foods a little ways up Lynn Valley Road.

It was a great year, grade 3, in many ways. That was such a fun place to live with the woods and the snow and the ditch and the tire swing. The commute over the bridge to get to the university to work drove my dad nuts though, so we moved into Burnaby after just a year, which turned out to be a pretty good move after all. The Burnaby house is still there, just the same as I remember. And Burnaby house #2 they bought, so they are still there today.

It's funny how a place can stick in your mind like that. It feels good to go have a look and be sure that it looks the way I remember it. Things change, but enough stays the same that I know my memory-thread is real and true. I wonder what our kids will remember and where they'll go back to look? They haven't moved around like I did, but they have attended different schools and made friends in a variety of places. I bet they'll want to go back and look one day too.

question: have you returned to a place to find it changed but the same?

mompoet - long roots

long weekend - short movie reviews

Akeela and the Bee (dvd)
Starbucks move (?!?) about a girl from an inner-city school who makes it to the National Spelling bee. Laurence Fishburne. True-life braniac children under pressure. Big heart. Starbucks ending (I'll have a latte AND a mocha. So there.)
Rating: 1 sniffle, 2 awwwws, 1 snort

Borat (big screen)
16 year old boy raved all the way home. The more scenes recounted, the less inclined mom is to want to see it except for that impulse to look at something run-over by the side of the road kind of curiosity. Maybe the part about trying to stuff Pamela Anderson in a sack so he can take her back to Kazakhstan and marry her?
Rating: 16 years THE BEST I HAVE EVER SEEN!
44.999 year WELL, MAYBE

Stranger than Fiction (big screen)
This one sneaked up on us (Fiona and me). Will Ferrell less Ferrell-ish than usual (very good). Emma Thompson (good). Dustin Hoffman (portraying a cross between God and Mr. McGoo). Maggie Gyllenhall (good). Queen Latifah (I want to look like queen latifah). Much more subtle than Being John Malkovich or Adaptation or all of the other reality-warp movies with which it is being compared. I want to go back and look again for all of the little-rary references.
Rating: 13 years - thumbs up
writer/reader/Will-Ferrel-fan-not mom - thumbs up

Coming Attraction
Tsotsie (dvd) - tonight in a living room near us

question: do you love the movies?

mompoet - I love the movies

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Real Live Dead People

I saw the Body Worlds exhibit with Fiona's class, and 3 other grade 8 classes today. It was very interesting, emotionally powerful and scientifically fascinating.

Part 1: the Real Live Dead People
It took 90 minutes to walk through the exhibit, and I would have taken longer but we had to go up to the Omnimax for the Human Body movie. The exhibit is nicely set up so you can move from one thing to another and return to re-check a part if a subsequent display makes you want another look back ("so that's where the pancreas is - let me go back and look at the pancreas in the display case"). There are bones and organs and nerves and blood vessels in small parts and whole human beings. The whole people and parts are arranged/posed for dramatic effect and to illustrate how the parts work and fit together in the body. There are healthy and diseased parts (including a cross section of a 300 pound man, body fat intact), even artificial parts. One female body has an artifical knee, elbow and ankle. The exhibit is arranged from the easiest to view (bones and muscles) to the most difficult (embryos and fetuses).

I was surprised by a few things - mostly size and proportion:
  • The lungs are much smaller that I thought they would be, and the thoracic cavity takes up much less of the torso than the abdominal cavity does. This makes sense, even when I look at myself in the mirror, but I always picture lungs as really big when they fill up with air. Flatten your hand. The outline of your lung is about that size if not a little smaller.
  • The aorta and vena cava are gigantic! I pictured the big blood vessels like outdoor power cords, but they are closer to garden hoses, not quite, but almost. You could put your thumb inside your aorta.
  • Human muscles look like meat. Okay. They are meat. Still, it's really something when you see it.
  • The bones of the inner ear (hammer, anvil and stirrup) could all fit on your baby finger nail with room to spare. They are impossibly tiny.
  • Kneecaps are not much bigger than pop bottle caps.
  • The bones of the feet are as delicate as those of the hands.
  • Blood vessels are everywhere.
  • The small intestine is quite alarming when it is unravelled.
  • Fetuses make me cry.
By now you will know for sure if you would like to see this show. I like all of this, so I loved it. The people whose bodies or parts are on display gave their permission (in the case of the babies it was the parents who gave permission, I suppose). You can walk all around everything and see it from every angle. It is absolutely spectacular. Some of the poses are sensationalistic, but at the same time they do demonstrate the body's amazing capacity to for physical performance. They are all doing things that people do.

Part 2: Watching the Watchers
The teachers were aware that the trip was controversial. They offered to excuse any students who chose not to attend (it would not affect their marks) and welcomed all parents who wished to attend. Not many parents attended. All but one student in Fi's class chose to attend.

While we were in the gallery, there were grade 10 students, grade 8s and a bunch of elementary school kids (probably grade 4 and 5). There were also adults who weren't part of a school group. I followed 3 nurses for a while. Every piece or person prompted patient stories. It was fun to overhear some of them. I chatted with quite a few people at the displays. Lots of people were talking to other people about what they were seeing and what it meant. The displays of disease (arthritis, leukemia, hemmoragic stroke, polycystic kidney disease) prompted discussion of illnesses of friends and family members. The teenagers were respectful and thoughful, if quick to bypass some displays. I saw two girls about 15, say to two similar-aged boys, "Look, a tumor of the testes." But they weren't giggling or grossing out. They were interested. Nobody seemed to be concerned by the penises and vaginas and anuses on display. I guess when you are looking at someone's liver you don't mind looking at sex organs too. It felt like we all knew we were looking at real people. We knew it was a special experience. Mostly what I felt myself and around me were curiosity, amazement and awe.

Contrast that with the Omnimax experience. The Science World Lady is reciting the rules (turn off your cell phones, don't take pictures, bla bla bla, no laser pointers) as laser pointer dots dance around her head on the screen behind her. Even so, the movie was good enough that the kids settled down and paid attention. They were delightfully grossed out by the churning stomach contents, especially when the bile squirted in, and by the zit-pop scene.

I'm glad I went on this trip with the school. I look forward to a second viewing with Alex's school later this month. I bet grade 10s and 11s will be fun to watch too, along with the real, live, dead people.

question: do you think you would like to see this exhibit? or if you did already, what do you think?

mompoet - real live live person

field trip

I will not go to work today. Instead I will go with the middle school to see Body Worlds at Science World. I am very interested to see the "plastinated" human bodies, and equally interested to observe the real, live middle-schoolers and their teachers.

question: have you seen it?

mompoet- delighting in curiosity

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

a word or 2: Transit of Mercury!

I just found out that today's the day that the planet Mercury crosses between us and the sun. You can watch it live beginning around 2pm Eastern Time on discovery.ca. Think of it as a very tiny and valiant eclipse. We now return to wordless wednesday.

question: is it anthropomorphizing when applied to a planet?

mompoet - planets are my friends

wordless wednesday

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

in the aftermath of the flooding

I, Politician
do take credit for rainbows.
Earthquakes are your fault.

question: ???

mompoet - lucky to live on high ground

Monday, November 06, 2006

dog walk haiku

on my umbrella
oak leaf high-five swift and light
courage whisks skyward

question: what did you see this morning?

mompoet - I like to walk in the rain

Sunday, November 05, 2006

how your mom turned into a witch (and back again thank goodness)

It is a dark and stormy night. Well, actually it is 4:10pm on Sunday afternoon. But it is stormy, or rainy anyway, and it is getting dark.

On her way home from errands, mom notices that all of the other houses in the neighbourhood had no Halloween decorations left. She reckons it is time to get ours down too. But when she arrives at home, nobody shares her conviction. Vague responses are given to her inquiries about the timing of decoration-removal. Not satisfied with lukewarm assurances that the pumpkins and cobwebs will be gone before the Christmas lights are put up, mom goes outside to do it herself.

As mom dresses in old jeans and a launder-able waterproof jacket and gumboots, a smallish wart pops up on her chin. She goes down to the basement to find a pair of pliers but cannot find them in the tangle of discarded tools. A biggish wart pops out on her forehead and one on her nose also. Her fingernails lengthen and take on a greenish cast.

Outside, mom commences pulling one-point-five quadrillion staple-gun staples out of the carport in order to remove a huge variety of halloween lights and decorations. With each twist of a staple, she grunts a witchy grunt. With each grunt, a tuft of her usually shining and bouncy hair turns iron-black and straw-like. When she pinches her finger with the pliers the wart on her chin sprouts 3 long whitish wirey hairs. Her greenish grayish eyes turn slitty and yellow.

Now mom climbs up on a plastic patio chair chair to remove the staples too high for her reach. Rain gushes from the clogged eavestroughs onto her head. She clutches a handful of staples in her gnarled fist and feels her teeth transforming into long yellowing fangs.

Lights and decorations removed, mom turns her attention to the styrofoam tombstones and fake cobwebs. Scooping armfuls of soggy cobwebs out of the branches of the lavender and boxwood plants, mom notices a large hump developing on her right shoulder. As she moves toward the garbage shed with a dripping tangle of cobwebs and attached branches and leaves, she notices that her usually confident and springy walk has transformed into a freakish shuffle. One foot is noticibly larger than the other, the the toes of her running shoes are now pointy and curled up at the tips.

Finally, the pumpkins. Mom muses on a radio spot she heard earlier this week, touting pumpkin-scented oil as the ultimate aphrodisiac. "Not from these pumpkins," she thinks as she carefully drains rainwater from the slimy interiors of the jack-o-lanters lining her carport. She carries 2 pumpkins to the trash with no mishap, but pumpkin number 4 turns out to be full of pumpkin slimewater even though it appeared to be empty. A reeking cascade soaks the front of her jeans and trickles inside one her of boots. Mom's lips shrivel and turn black. Her nose and chin grow longer and curl inwards toward one another.

Half an hour later, mom is inside, unwinding with a glass of wine. Dad and daughter come in. Nobody says thank you, but somebody notices that the rather large coffin was not brought into the house. Pale, sulphurous smoke curls from mom's ears. Her tongue turns green with orange spots.

*****

Forty-five minutes later, mom is mom again. She finished the wine, posted her blog and reminded her family that she says "thanks" for jobs well done and appreciates their thanks and recognition. Now she is no longer a witch. The healthy supper that she cooks for them is not poisoned with magic toadstools. When she tucks them into bed later, they hardly even notice the warts.

question: what job do you detest?

mompoet - working on working out resentment because it gets yukkier and yukkier if you hang onto it

the home stretch

I just checked the calendar. I have 30 more workdays until the end of the year. This is a bit alarming because there's still to much to do, but when the days are done I'll set down what's left undone, go on vacation, and come back to pick it up when I return. It will still be there.

Work has been busier, more challenging and more stressful than I can remember since 1988 when I helped to open a mega-big rec centre. This is different thought. It's just everyday demands compounding and accelerating. I'm not sure yet if it's cyclical or a trend that will continue indefinitely. I certainly hope it's the former.

Luckily, I work with a team of energetic, even-tempered, ambitious and down-to-earth people, including a good and compassionate boss. My co-workers are able to laugh hysterically when the demands get ridiculously overwhelming, and not get too upset by some of the near misses and minor catastrophes that come with over-business. The other day in a team meeting (which included a yummy supper - shared food helps too) we just burst out laughing for a few minutes, then got back to work. We stay aware of each other's home lives and interests and thus reinforce the important idea that this is just work, that the important part of life happens before and after. And we go home, and we support each other so we can take days off for field trips, orthodontist appointments, vacations.

Which brings me to vacation. For the first time in my full-time working life (which began in 1984) I will take 3 weeks paid vacation time all at one time. That's 15 workdays plus the surrounding weekends, plus the first day back to school - a lovely luxury - to just unwind. Before this I have taken only 2 weeks at a time so I'd be sure to have enough to cover all of the important holidays and times with the family. This year I have more paid vacation, so I'm going for it. I'll have a whole week off while the kids are still in school, and I'll take that first day when they go back, just to get ready to return to the office.

I wonder what I'll do? I'm sure I will sleep in, work out, read books, see friends, hang out with my family, watch foreign movies (remember my New Year's Resolution?), and I think there's another 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle in the plan.

I'll also help out with our daughter's Christmas panto. She's in a production of Aladdin that will run right through Christmas. Besides driving her back and forth to the theatre I'll help backstage. I have even volunteered to be "half of a camel" for at least some of the performances. I know, "WHICH HALF?" Here's my stock answer to a question that I have now hear at least a dozen times:
"WHICHEVER HALF IS EMPTY."

Here's the show. If you make it, be sure to applaud both halves of the camel. One of them might be me.

For now, I will enjoy the last 30 workdays and try to stay healthy. So far not one sick day this year and we need the whole sick pay rebate (in excess of $1 kilobuck) for a math tutuor for semester 2 Math Principles 11. Tra la la!

question: will you take winter vacation this year?

mompoet - counting up/down with anticipations

Saturday, November 04, 2006

More Dead Poets' Slam





These photos were taken by Franci Louann.









question: if you could be a dead poet, which dead poet would you be?

mompoet - all poets, all dead, all the time

after the storm

on the boulevard
newly naked trees greet me
like old friends returned

questions: do you love this time of year?

mompoet - I love this time of year

Thursday, November 02, 2006

something you should know (or already do)

I was riding home on the bus and
what usually happens
happened
everyone could hear my thoughts
I think about this almost every time I ride the bus
the people are sitting there
looking oblivious
and listening to everything I think and feel
I think, “I gotta pee”
they think, “she has to pee”
I think “That guy with the ipod and the track suit looks like my brother
they think “that guy with the ipod and the track suit looks like her brother”
I think, “If I thought about murdering someone or robbing a bank or having sex with someone on this bus, would everyone hear that?”
They think, “yes, we would hear that.”
It only happens on the bus, most of the time
But never on the 97 bus because 97 is a prime number
It’s the B-line, and if B was a letter, it would be a prime number
Because B is two
B is the only even prime number letter
C is a prime number also
but it’s not even
even so, the C24 bus is safe too because if you add up the number 24 and the letter C
you get 27
which isn’t a prime number
but it’s the cube of a prime so it’s even better
so on some buses the people can’t hear my thoughts
but on most they can
they act natural because they all agreed ahead of time that that’s the best way to deal with
listening to my thoughts
like they had a meeting or something about me
everyone in the world
or
everyone who rides the bus, anyway
they all agreed to just act natural
so I try to think thoughts like elevator music
so I won’t give away too many secrets


a secret
another one
I sometimes imagine that someone I know is watching me when I’m all by myself
I imagine that the person is admiring me
thinking I’m pretty amazing or talented
or at least loveable
or at least funny
I imagine they’re sneaking around, disguised as someone else
or they hired someone with a hidden camera
or planted a spy camera in a room where I’ll be all by myself
and they’re watching on a monitor
in a van down the street
I’m usually pretty careful to act
admirable
or
loveable
or at least funny when I think they’re watching
but then I realize I just ate my entire salad with my fingers
dipping leaf clusters into balsamic vinegar
then I licked my fingers
then I farted
but I stood up first so I wouldn’t squeak the chair
I hate when that I fart-squeak the chair
it's so undignified
then I realize it’s probably just as well that nobody is watching
or at least if they are I hope they think I’m
loveable
or
funny
enough to like to see me eating salad with my fingers and farting off the chair

sometimes I think babies are really
old, wise aliens
they are sent to earth to observe us
and send data back to their planets
they can understand everything we say
and hear our thoughts
and sometimes they even control our thoughts
to see if we’ll do what they telepath us to do
then they grow up and turn into ordinary kids
after they’ve done their work
and transmitted data
about how we act around little babies
up to their mother ship

one time I peed my pants at the Vancouver Art Gallery
not just a little squirt
a whole gusher
I just couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time
I threw my underwear in the trash
mopped up as best I could with t.p.
wrapped my hoodie around my waist to hide the wet patch on my jeans
and went to look at tom thompson anyway

my mother says as you get older you lose a bit of your control
but I’ve always been this way
she says you also understand better that you never had
as much control as you thought you had
and I think she’s right about that
sometimes I talk to my mother when she’s not there
sometimes, when she’s there, I don’t

I just second guessed myself
I looked up prime numbers on the internet
97 is a prime for sure
the next one after it is 101
if we rode the 99 bus together it would be a prime because us and 99
add up to 101
we should ride the bus together one time
you know what I’m thinking
even when the bus
is safe



question: am I the only one?

mompoet - suspecting not