Tuesday, January 31, 2006

stupid jokes you can make with your family about the toilet that has been removed

"Dance me to the end of tub."
"MOM!!! Get me a funnel!!!!"
"Now the cat doesn't need a litter box."
"If you get stuck in there, you'll have to stand on a stool to get out."
and the ubiquitous
"Don't fall in!"

question: ???

mompoet - enjoying toilet humour

Monday, January 30, 2006


on the radio (yet)


question - Kalankanobia?

mompoet - I know, get over it....

the toilet is gone

in its place a gaping hole, now covered with plastic
we await the carpenter's investigation of our bathroom's sad deterioration
and dream of sinks, cabinets, tubs of the rich and famous
and a new floor
will peeing be glamourous and steeped in luxury
once the job is done?
or will it just be
business as usual?

question: where has the toilet gone? and what will we do with the gaping hole?

mompoet - agog

Sunday, January 29, 2006

mompoet shops and lives to tell about it

I do not shop willingly or cheerfully or with any skill. If you want me to love you forever, shop for me. Andy does this all the time. I write lists and wait at home while he shops. I go get my own clothing and personals, and I take the daughter unit out for similar items, and I will go to places like "liquor store" or "veggie store" but I try to stay out of big boxes and mega-stores as much as possible because they make me
I like stimulation, information, sensation, but one thing or theme at a time. I do not like smorgasbords or surveys or samplers. I like a lot of one thing done well.
I went to Ikea today with Andy because we need to look at things together to decide what we will buy to renovate the bathroom. I think I need a support group for this, really, but I did quite well. I also went to two different Ronas (Rona is okay because it is relatively small and all one theme) and two different Home Depots (which are not as bad as Ikea because there are dogs in Home Depot - really! and things are sorted into sections which I can ignore until we get to the thing I want to look at). And I went to Costco which is obscene, but still better than WalMart which is obscene and mean. And I survived. Actually, the anticipation was worse than the actual shopping. Andy and I always quarrel before we do serious shopping. I am resisting looking at more than one place or more than one thing. He is imagining that we need to go everywhere and look at everything then go again to be sure. The reality is somewhere in between and by the end of the day we are proud and grateful towards each other for coming through it still attached.
My strategy this time was to bring a digital camera. Whenever we saw something we liked I took a picture of it, preferably with the price sticker in the picture. So when we got to the second Home Depot, and Andy said "I think I like this soaker tub better than the one at Rona," I said, "Well, let's just look at the one at Rona. I have a top view and a side view." This made life much easier because you just can't hold an accurate picture of tubs, sinks, cabinets, counter tops, and light fixtures in two brains all day and have them make any kind of sense.
So next Andy has to take the toilet out of the bathroom so Mike, the carpenter can saw a hole in the floor to find out how far the wet/rot and miscellaneous damage has gone and how much he will need to fix, so we know how much the whole thing is going to cost. The deal is, the less it costs, the more we can get Mike to do for us. In the end we will have a beautiful bathroom and we will still be a happy family. And Andy can go back to doing all of the shopping until we have to get a new fridge or something like that. I hope not for a while anyway.


question: is there any ordinary thing that you dread/suck at/hate?

mompoet - nada-shoppa

Friday, January 27, 2006

WordPlay and the Fundraiser

I was too crabby and frantic yesterday to write about my good day Wednesday. It's safe now, to be in the same room with me, so I'm catching up on good things. I'm home from work until 2:30 when there are just too many after-school programs starting up for me to leave my co-workers on their own to manage, so I'll work for a couple of hours later in the day. Otherwise, it's pretty much a day off. Ahhhhh

Let's get crabby and frantic out of the way. Work is just way too busy, high volume with bonus time-consuming surprises. Then I take a couple days of flex time to do important things, but the work continues to pile up. It's life, but it's hard to handle. Add a low-grade cold and my own personal inclination to protect everyone around me from feeling the the worst effects of the stress, and I just naturally get to the end of my rope. A slow evening with my family and early sleep have done a world of good already. Wearing pajamas at 8:05 in the morning help too. Now Fi's home from school on a pro-d day so we'll have a girls' day, which will help also. Andy and I will sit down at the computer and actually book the vacation hotels this weekend, and that will help too. There's something about shared anticipation of a long-time-coming treat that feels so wonderful...

So you can see, I'm pretty good at finding my way out of a funk. At least partially de-funkified, I am ready to reflect on Wednesday's good things.

Barbara Adler and Brendan McLeod came to the middle school with me on Wednesday to present two spoken word workshops to grade 6 classes as part of a school-wide literacy day. The kids were hesitant at first, but Barbara and Brendan are captivating performers and very real and encouraging in the way they talk to the kids and get them to interact and play with words. I had my socks knocked off two or three times by things the kids said and did. At 11 years old, they are still "unzipped" to a certain extent, willing to go out on a limb and say and do things that reveal their thoughts and emotions. They are wildly creative and not yet limited by ideas of what a proper poem should be. It was a privilege to be given a peek into their artistic minds. And Barbara and Brendan were wonderful, generous, funny and lovely to be with. Thanks so much to the organizers of WordPlay, who run volunteer to run this program that sends poets to schools for workshops and performances. Thank you Chrystalene, Emily and Woody. You are wonderful! The WordPlay website is still in the works. I'll put a link in a future post.

On Wednesday evening I participated in the West Coast Poetry Festival Fundraiser. The festival is scheduled for the first week in July in Vancouver. This one will be the third annual. It's organized by the strange and wonderful Sean McGarragle. It's completely free and it's full of poets who will knock your socks off. A bunch of us helped Sean raise some funds on Wednesday with a show at Cafe Montmartre. I couldn't believe I was part of such a spectacular lineup: Poet Emily Elder performed intimate poems of love and loss. Storyteller Bill MacNamara had us rolling in the aisles and wiping away tears with his tales of misadventure. Chrystalene Buhler astonished us with the simplicity and intensity of her straight-to-the heart poetry. Fernando Raguero was gross and loveable at the same time. Patrick Swan swooped us into his world of hard-knocks and tender compassion. Anis Mojgani showed us why he's the current National Poetry Slam champ and a good-hearted guy too. Shane Koyczan made us laugh even when he wasn't on the stage. Sean MCd and performed a stunning new poem about the disappeared women of Vancouver's east side. Writer/musician John Dixon played evocative back-up trumpet and the divine Chelsea Johnson sang. I totally appreciated the audience for their response to my short set. That poem about the colonoscopy seems to hit home wherever I go. All in all it was a great night. I think Sean raised a bunch of cash. Irene Livingston came out and stayed past the break to see me perform. Thank you Irene!!!!! My friends Marianne, Cathy, Karen and Peggy were there too, and lots of friends from the Poetry Slam. It was all over about 11:15 so I made it home before 12, tired but very happy.

Wow, writing about all that good stuff has further de-funkified me. I know it sounds unbearably platitudinous (I know that's not a word), but our experience is coloured by our outlook. At least for me, changing lenses or pointing in a different direction is often enough to bring back a happy state of mind. Over all, I'm conscious in my logical mind and my heart and my bones that I live a life overflowing with good people, good fortune and extravagant opportunity.

question: what's good for you today?

mompoet - easily, happily distracted

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Google has just activated a "eunuch" search engine for use in China.

question: are there any good guys on the internet?

mompoet - optimistic and naiive

Time for a Potluck

Update: The table is now full. Thank you everyone for your contributions. I'll work on the poem and post it before I sleep Thursday.
Of course, if any rebel wants to arrive late with a bite or two, there might be some of us still hungry, but you're taking your chances, and it best be dessert you're bringing...

Carol, whose blog is called A Revision, recently asked if I would write a poem for her Friends of the Friendless Marching Band. I told her I would be delighted, but I need some help from my friends.

Every Friday, Carol highlights an interesting but under-visited blog and invites her band of fellow bloggers to visit the site. We all play instruments, and most of us joined because we were visited. I have found some very cool sites and wonderful people in the band.

I think I can have a poem ready for next Friday's FFMB post (that would be Feb 3). But I don't want to write it all by myself. Whether you're a member of the band or not, please help me by bringing your dish to the potluck sometime this weekend. I'm looking for (you can bring me one or more):

  • a word or phrase that you would like to have in the poem
  • a place (real or not)
  • a person (specific or general)
  • a colour, sound, flavour, song, sensation
  • a cliche or song lyric or something else someone might say
  • an historical event
  • anything else you would like in the poem
I will take all of your "casseroles" and "cakes" and lay them out banquet-style to make a poem. I don't know what it will be about. It will be about whatever you send me.

It will be fun.

question: do you have something for me?

mompoet - getting ready to make pome

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The big trip

On our family white board I have drawn a two-and-a-half-week grid of dates, with the name of a city inside each square. Most of the cities have roller coasters in them. Andy and the kids have been checking out websites about places where they have roller coasters, and also hotels. Pretty soon we will book places to sleep near roller coasters. Then we'll begin the countdown to our first really long, really far away family road trip. We have been saving up for this for about 3 years. It's hard to believe we're finally going to to it, but we are. Part of the calendar looks like a song: LA LA LA LA LA LA LA...

question: are you going on vacation sometime soon?

mompoet - LA LA LA LA LA LA

Big Poetry Bonanza Day - cough

Today's the day that WordPlay comes to the middle school. I'll be at the school with Barbara Adler and Brendan McLeod, two incredibly talented and good-hearted poets, helping with a poetry workshop for 2 groups of Grade 6 kids. The teachers at the school have organized "Literrific Day," and we're one of the workshop choices. Barbara and Brendan are part of the WordPlay workshop project put on by Vancouver Poetry House. It's going to be great.

I'll actually go in to work for a couple of hours after that, then off to more poetry.

Tonight there's a fundraiser for the West Coast Poetry Festival at Cafe Montmartre at 4362 Main near King Edward. The show starts at 8. Admission is by donation. Here's the show, in the words of WCP organizer, Sean McGarragle:

Performing at Montematre will be myself, Bill McNamara, Fernando Raguero, Patrick Swan (AKA Dunce the Wizard), Chrystalene Buhler, Anis Mojgani, Emily Elder and Susan McIntyre.
For those of you who may not know these individuals, Bill McNamara was last year's Vancouver Story Slam Champion; Patrick Swan is the Vancouver representative at this year's Individual World Poetry Slam in Charlotte North Carolina; Fernando Raguero and Chrystalene Buhler are former members of the infamous Vancouver Poetry Slam team; Susan McIntyre will be competing in the 2006 Poetry Face-off and Emily Elder is a performer, political burlesque dancer and relatively recent migrant to Vancouver from the cold climate of Calgary. A recent addition to the event is Anis Mojgani, the 2005 National Poetry Slam Champ. He's up for a couple of days and has offered his services for the evening.

If you can come, you should. It will be a wonderful show, and for an excellent cause. WCPF is the biggest, best, free-admission poetry festival you could ever imagine, and it happens every summer in Vancouver thanks to the genius and courage of Sean McGarragle.
It should be a really hot show of storytelling and performance poetry. And all proceeds will be going to the production of this summer's West Coast Poetry Festival.

In the meantime, echinacia is letting me down, and I have a tumbleweed in my throat, but that's okay. I'm too busy to get sick today - maybe tomorrow (well, no, I have to go in to work and write my budget) probably Friday. Oh well, by that time the virus will have given up in frustration at not being able to book an appointment and it will move on to someone more susceptible - I hope!

question: read any good eggplants lately?

mompoet - reassembling myself for the day

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

We Won

Our candidate, Dawn Black, was elected last night. I worked at the polling place all afternoon and evening, as an inside scrutineer for the NDP Party. We have had a Conservative or Alliance MP for the past 10 years, so it was great to get back to the NDP.

In the bigger picture, we have a Conservative Minority government for the country. At the best, this means that the parties will have to work together, listen to each other more, and cooperate to keep the government from falling. At worst it means that the government will work for a time, then grind to a halt, and fall to a non-confidence motion, then we're back where we started with another election.

In the meantime, we have more NDP Members of Parliament in Canada than before. Here at home we will be represented by a good one. Dawn was MP for New West Coquitlam in the early 90s. She has the experience, intelligence, courage and heart that we need in Ottawa. And now for some election day snapshots:

  • Our house is now represented by Black and Black. Ian Black is our (Liberal) MLA in Victoria. Dawn Black is our NDP MP in Ottawa. I think Black and Rockwell would have sounded better, but who asked me?
  • At the polling place, a neighbour who was working as a Poll Clerk told me about their training. "Everyone is afraid of the scrutineers, you know. We watched a video with this overbearing scrutineer who demanded to see ID from every voter and bellowed at the election workers. It was awful." The poll staff seemed relieved that we scrutineers were their neighbours, ordinary people, and polite. Our main job is to keep track of who has voted and communicate that to the phone bank, where they will call our supporters who have not come in yet. The impression among poll staff is that we are mainly there to catch them making mistakes and make them feel bad. Maybe it's the name. "Scrutineer" sounds a lot like "bucaneer." ARRRRR MATEY! YOU'LL NOT BE COUNTIN' THAT VOTE AS YOU SEE IT! YOU'LL BE COUNTIN' IT AS I SEE IT OR YE'LL WALK THE PLANK!
  • The scrutineers from the various parties were very friendly and helpful to each other. We shared numbers, sandwiches (the Conservatives got much nicer sandwiches than we did) and stories.
  • The Returning Officer at the polling place baked biscotti and brought tea and coffee for all of the workers and the party volunteers.
  • People brought their dogs into the polling place (a school gym). About 6pm we were all cheered up by a friendly galoot of a golden retriever who wandered around the gym, visiting everyone who looked like they wanted a cuddle.
  • Lots of young voters came in and registered. Very nice to see parents coming in for their son or daughter's first time voting.
  • A kid who I know from our daughter's school came in and asked if he could vote. But he didn't have ID and he's 12 years old, so they didn't let him.
  • More people I know from other places came in, working for the NDP - my neighbours from down the street and a lady from the church choir.
  • My husband came in on his way home from work. Thank you Andy for putting up with my absence while I've gone to volunteer, and for putting up with the lawn sign, which is so not your style. Thank you for understanding that I need to do this.
  • When the time came for the count, I tried to be a good scrutineer and "watch silently." But the poll workers were young and a bit nervous, and the count was so close it kept going back and forth between Dawn Black and Paul Forseth (the incumbent Conservative). It was like watching a hockey game. At one point we all burst out giggling. It is serious and important, but the tension was killing us!
  • I loved having the voting over at 7pm. I heard that the polls closed later back east and earlier in the west to make the results come out over a shorter span of time. As soon as the polls closed, we got some back east results over CBC radio. The die was cast by that time.
  • I skipped the victory party - not my scene. (It was at Il Mercante by the way - great choice!) When I got home, Andy was still out fetching Fi from rehearsal. Alex and I sat and watched the results come in and cheered our candidates, and speculated about the future. Like me, my son is optimistic that things will be good, in general and eventually.
So that's my personal reflection on this election. It felt good to be involved again. It was great that Alex got involved too. I'm over the moon about the outcome in our riding, but not so much about the country as a whole. Right now it's hard to imagine a federal government that would be all good. I guess it will be up to us citizens to make sure we participate more than just on election day.

question: how'd you like the election this time?

mompoet - yanking the sign out of my garden today

Sunday, January 22, 2006

minutes after capturing their image the photographer ate her subjects

I have heard that eggplants are either male of female, and that one or the other is better to eat. But I don't know how to tell, so I'm not sure if this photograph depicts a same-sex encounter or not. I used the Moosewood Low Fat Favourites Cookbook recipe to make a yummy tomato and herb sauce with roasted eggplant, that I served with pasta and feta cheese. It is yummy. Carol, you should give it a chance. Do you like it in a tree? Do you like it by the sea? Would you eat it in a yurt? Would you eat it in the dirt?

question: does anyone know how to sex an eggplant?

mompoet - aubergines are all good to me

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Guess how many times I can check my email and post my blog and address a letter and pet the cat? As many times as I don't want to clean the house. Thanks for the emails friends. I'm listening to Definitely Not the Opera, CBC1 on the net while I clean, and I can hear your little chime whenever an email comes in, then I have to stop and read and reply.

It's starting to look (and smell) like the oranutangs moved south and people live here. Orange and bleach-scented people. mmmmm And I just baked an apple crisp with plums and blueberries so it smells yummy too.

hi-ho hi-ho now to scrub the tub and make the toilet so you can serve soup in it (but don't, really).

question: any other ideas for excuses to take a break?

mompoet - easily distractible

coming clean with myself

As I vacuumed the living room I thought about my previous post. Re-reading it I detect an obvious tone of resentment. Why does everyone make such a mess for me to clean up?

Here are my thoughts:

1. When I clean, I turn any real resentment about issues and disagreements with my loved ones into petty gripes about toothpaste and urine splashes and dirty socks under the couch. Anything that's smouldering is at least temporarily transformed into something that can be dealt with by physical effort. It's a form of denial or at least deferral. I must think on this.

2. When I clean in preparation for a busy week, I soothe my own guilty conscious. It's okay that I am going to abandon my responsiblities (family and work) on a temporary basis. I'm leaving a clean and tidy habitat for my loved ones to enjoy while I am away. I must think on this also.

question: who'd have thought I'd move the sofa and THAT would crawl out?

mompoet - scouring

the big scrape before the wacky week

If you read my blog regularly, or if you have visited my house, you will know that housecleaning is something I do occasionally and with reluctance. Today is one of those days that I have decided to do it - partly because Michele and Brent are coming over. We're going out for supper together then back here for dessert and coffee. It's also partly because we have a wacky week coming up, and as much as I hate scraping, scrubbing and sucking (with a vacuum cleaner that is), there's something about it that makes me feel anchored and more in control. So the cleaning and organizing is partly physical and partly psychic. There. I said it.

Did you know how much crap a dog can make in the back yard in one week? even when she mostly craps on walks and we pick that up as we go? I swear she craps more than she eats. How can that be possible?

The week coming up begins with the federal election, which pretty much guarantees I will be busy Monday (volunteering - either as a scrutineer or voter transporter) and depressed for the rest of the week (at least). It will be much better if our local candidate Dawn Black wins, which she can. The race in our riding has been officially declared "exciting" and "too close to call" in the media. Last time the Conservative who is currently our MP won by just .2% - that's two-tenths of one percent. Dawn is a great candidate. She has been working her butt off, and will be a great MP. It will be important to work hard on Monday, though to get all of her supporters to the polls.

Why is it that 4 people in one house all decide to do their laundry on the same day? And why do 3 out of 4 people think that it is a good idea to turf wet laundry out of the washer and "play through" with their laundry, leaving the wet load on the sidelines? It's not difficult to put it in the dryer, instead of making it wait in soggy purgatory for the next available opening.

Wednesday I am delighted to be attending a WordPlay Poetry in the Schools presentation at the middle School. Our own Vancouver Poetry House will send performance poets Barbara Adler and Brendan McLeod to run a workshop for grade 6 students as part a school-wide literacy day. It will be fun. I'll take most of the day off work, but run back to my office afterward to catch up and do some hiring interviews. Later that evening I'll be part of a fundraiser for The West Coast Poetry Festival at Cafe Montmartre. That's 8pm on Wednesday the 25th.

How does toothpaste get everywhere in the bathroom? A person would have to be spinning around like a propeller, spewing it like one of those farm machines that projects manure onto farm fields to get toothpaste all over the place like it is in my upstairs bathroom. I'd like to see how this happens, just once.

Friday is a Pro D day for both kids, so I've booked the day off work. This will be lots of fun, but also stressful since I will have flexed most of Monday and Wednesday off too. There's that thing where you pay for a day off with frazzle before and after. I may have to go into work Friday evening to start up a couple of drop-in programs, because the other members of my team live in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and it's unreasonable to ask them to drive back in to do this when I live 5 minutes from the program sites.

You know what's a real waste of time? Dusting. You have to look really close to see that there's dust, then you wipe it off and it comes back. I think I'll skip dusting and just turn down the lights and light some candles. Come to think of it, I could sprinkle some bleach on a cotton ball and tuck it behind my ear, then maybe I could light a candle in the bathroom and I might fool everyone into thinking it's clean too.

Then on Satuday-next I'm going to see Vincent in Brixton at the Playhouse in the afternoon with mom and dad, so I won't be cleaning at all next weekend.

So you see, I have to scrape today, because the house is really a mess and because I need to begin this week with a sense that things are tied down, tucked in and at least temporarily scrubbed bright. It's good exercise too. Especially the part where I carry the fifty pound bag of polluted kitty litter and collected dog crap up the street and hurl it into the dumpster. Yeah.

question: what do you do on a Saturday?

mompoet - domestic ninja

Friday, January 20, 2006

Stephen Harper is not Scary

Look. There he is, sitting on George Bush's lap and purring.

question: what the..?

mompoet - meow fssst!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

duty calls

especially when it's a jury. I am called for jury duty in Ohio on Feb 6. When I stopped laughing and blew my nose and changed my underwear I actually read the thing. I am covered by a "MANDATORY EXCLUSION" due to the fact that I no longer reside in that county (not since I was 4 years old I should say). Fiona says I should go, and give them the bill for the airplane.

question: when duty calls, is anyone listening?

mompoet - fanning myself with a summons

The Ladeez Just got back from Broke Back Mountain

And we loved it! And we're glad we didn't take our husbands who have been making fun of it (and us) since we started talking about going to see it! So there! And the credits were nice and long, and the napkins you get with popcorn are good if you forgot to bring kleenex.

I am blessed to have friends who'll just pull on their boots and head out for a movie spur-o-the-moment. Also, I am not so sure I want my husband to go "fishing" with his friends anymore.

question: can you think of a question?

mompoet - when I am an old lady I will go to the movies every week

worry dreams

landslides with a river of abstract art fish people sliding down the hill
i'm watching from across the inlet
abandoned house with 3 girls sleeping
can't find my shirt
forgot to prepare for the meeting
5:30 comes before the happy ending

question: did you dream last night?

mompoet - okay by day, perplexed by night

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

work's like that

all day, all day
people and their funny ways
then I come home to my family

question: who invented perception?

mompoet - boggled

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Free again

I am loosed once again from the clutches of Diana Gabaldon's imagination. A Breath of Snow and Ashes was a good read - all 950 pages of it. I cried at the end. There's the possibility of a sequel. I am now giving it to Kathy who is next in line. Next I will read The Kite Runner.

question: read any good movies lately?

mompoet - so many books, so little time. I will never catch up

Good for what ails ye

Everyone has a cold or the flu right now. If you have to keep working/studying/moving despite a bite of the virus, try packing this lovely brew with you in a thermos. Sip it all day. You may not get better any more quickly, but it will make you feel warmed, juiced-up and loved.

Sherrard's Hot Apple Drink

organic unfiltered apple juice
fresh ginger

Heat the apple juice in a saucepan. Squeeze in the juice of one fresh lemon. Steep a cinnamon stick if you have one or sprinkle in some powdered cinnamon and stir well. Slice in a few chunks of fresh ginger. Let the whole brew simmer for a while and pour it into a cup for right now or a thermos for later.

Make a big batch, drink lots, share it with your friends and loved ones. When you are feeling crummy you need to give yourself a lot of TLC.

question: what makes you feel better when you're not feeling so good?

mompoet - nurturing

Monday, January 16, 2006

I just volunteered again

to help select a new minister for our church. The congregation elected a committee to look at applications, meet candidates and recommend a new minister. I was surprised to be chosen, being pretty new at all of this. I am honoured and also a bit scared.

Our old minister retired about 18 months ago, and the great big church provided us with an interim minister for 2 years, who I wish we could keep but it doesn't work like that. So now we have to choose. It will be a new experience for me, and an important responsibility. I'll be working with some very good people. We'll do a good job.

question: did you ever hire a minister?

mompoet - leaping into the unknown with faith and optimism

Sunday, January 15, 2006

there were these crows

Walking home from Shoreline Writers' group this afternoon I noticed that the sky was covered with crows - like fleas jumping on a dog's blanket. They were way up hight at first, reeling and plunging in some kind of line dance in the sky choreography. There were a few around the edges, clustered on trees near the shore of the inlet, but they joined in to make probably about 300 up there all at once. The sky was thick with cloud and dark purply grey. It was about 4pm, but already darkening, mostly because of those clouds. The crows were pretty evenly spread over a big part of the sky. The sound of the cars and trucks on the highway overwhelmed their voices until a change in the wind brought them down to me. They were clattering and cawing and they swooped lower until they were so close I could see the way they pumped their wings to rise and spread them to soar and turn. I noticed that the feathers on the edges of their wings separated like fingers but with pointy ends and a grey cast on the underneath. It was startling and beautiful and eery. The whole spectacle lasted for about 5 minutes as I passed beneath them. I kept walking but turned and walked backwards for a while to watch them as the whole sky full of them moved south and over the ridge. Now that was something to see.

question: who knows the purpose of crows?

mompoet - looking at the sky

Friday, January 13, 2006


I just got a bit blonder today. Thanks to the miracle of peroxide and my ability to withstand a condom on my head and a crochet hook in my scalp, I am spectacular. Well, actually, I am spectacular all the time. Today I am a blonder version of spectacular.

When I think of blonde I think of this or this or this (oh I do apologize about that last one!) and also of blonde jokes and "dumb blonde" and blondies, which are brownies without chocolate which seem to be a gross error of omission.

The thing is, I was blonde when I was little, then when I got older I got more like this colour. Not exactly brown, but no longer blonde by any stretch of the imagination. Also I started to get grey a couple of years ago, which looks sort of like blonde except that the grey hairs stand up straight like exclamation marks. I don't know why!!!

So I pay Julie who is an angel and slightly sadistic with the crochet hook, to get me blonder a couple (or maybe 3 or 4) times a year. Some day I will post a photograph of me wearing the big condom hat with crochet hooked hair sprouting out, but I'm not yet quite that desperate for material.

By the way, when someone gets blonde (or any other colour) it is completely okay to say "I love your new colour." You don't have to pretend like the person woke up just slightly more beautiful by some cosmic accident. It's not a secret. And there has to be some compensation for this collander scalp. (Just kidding Julie. I like it, really.)

question: are you vain in any way? how?

mompoet - it's all right to be beautiful, you know

Fat and Happy Times in Eritrea

Don't read my blog today. I'm not doing anything. Ready my sister's blog instead.

question: I didn't know there was more than one Eid - did you?

mompoet - well, not anything interesting, anyway

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Something to ask your candidate about....

When I was 21 I got a job working at a community school, supervising a summer day camp for kids. I was the "Project Manager," team leader for about half a dozen other university students. Together we ran a program for about 100 kids each week. The money came from a federal government "Youth Employment Grant," and was administered by the local community association. That summer I found out how much I love to work as a team leader. I already knew that I was going to work with kids - as a teacher, I thought at the time. That summer I found out what fun it is to be the team supervisor, overseeing delivery of the program. This discovery led to me to pursue the work I do now as a recreation programmer. I still love hiring, training, coaching and guiding leaders, and designing and administering services. I am also very good at it.

That was more than 20 years ago. The federal funding is still in place, now called "Summer Career Placement Initiative." In the city where I work as a recreation coordinator, there are day camps at all of the community schools. They provide a safe and fun place for children to spend their days, and wonderful job experience for university students on their way to discovering what it is they want to do. Many of the leaders who I hire to work in our city rec department camps and programs got their initial experience in these summer employment projects. And it's not just kids camps. All kinds of organizations employ student with money from the federal fund. I'm guessing that a lot of those students are out there every summer discovering what it is they are good at.

For summer 2006, a new funding model is being considered. It is probable that funding to Summer Career Placements will be reduced. This will result in fewer community services like day camps for kids, and fewer opportunities for young adults to explore work that may result in that wonderful eureka experience of, "Hey! This is what I want to do!"

If you attend an all-candidates meeting or if a candidate knocks on your door, ask him or her, "What will you do to ensure that funding for Summer Career Placements is maintained or increased in 2006?" It's a good question.

question: what issues interest you in this election?

mompoet - continuing to discover what it is I like to do - EUREKA!


Where's that city where they're hosting the winter Olympics?


In my imagination I am going to call it Kalankanobia. Nobody can mess that up. When I hear some announcer bumble through calling it something horrible-sounding, I will substitute my city name just like a beep covers over a swear word...KALANKANOBIA. Maybe I will just shout it out and let people wonder what I'm on about. Every time an announcer mis-pronounces Turin, I will shout KALANKANOBIA!!!

There. I feel much better now.

question: what bugs you for no good reason?

mompoet - cranky

Sunday, January 08, 2006


First the New Year's Resolution. I am going to write one letter each week to someone who would normally never receive a letter from me, and mail it. First one went into the mail yesterday.

Next.. two suggestions from my daughter about change: she says it's time to change my hairstyle (I disagree) and also my blog template (I think that sounds like fun).

We will see, we will see. I predict two out of three will be successful changes. But you never know. Otherwise I will remain EXACTLY the same. hah!

(not really)

question: when you turn the page where are you?

mompoet - perpetually curious about this middle half of life

Saturday, January 07, 2006

another way to find good songs

I read about this in Stephen's blog From the Centre to the Edge. It's called the Music Genome Project. You type in a song you like and by some amazing algorithm, you get a stream of other songs that you are sure to enjoy. As each song comes out, the engine points out what this song has in common with the first choice that you indicated. It's very much fun.

question: is there anything the internet can't do?

mompoet - I know: hug, listen, cook supper, remind me not to ask rhetorical questions (unless someone invents a conversational authenticity checker - now that would be good)

Not born on the fourth of July or in a Prime Year

My Dad took a look at 1961 and got right back to me (also analysing birth years of my siblings):

When I tested divisibility by primes up through 31 I thought 1961 probably would be a prime. But 1961 = 37 x 53. So that takes care of you.

1963 = 13 x 151, taking care of Barbara.

1965 is interesting since 1965 = 3 x 5 x 13. Does that make Michael more complex than his sisters?

The largest prime less than 1961 is 1951, and your mother and I hadn't met then. Anyway, in that year she was 18 or 19 and I was 15 or 16 and I don't know if we would have been ready for each other yet, let alone ready for parenthood. The smallest prime larger than 1965 is 1973 by which time your mother was 40 or 41, which is getting on towards dangerously late.

So blame your grandparents, who should have started either earlier or later.
question: are you born in a prime year?

mompoet - still smiling without an overbite or a prime number birth year

How to decide how to vote

Check out this online survey - part of CBC's Canada Votes. Find out how your opinions on the issues match up with opinions of the major political parties. It takes about 5 minutes, and gives you a rating of how close you are to each of the candidates on issues like taxes, social policy, foreign policy, the economy, gun control...

Andy and the kids and I have been talking about how we get our political points of view. We agree that our parents are our biggest influences, but that experiences and learning help determine whether a child agrees or disagrees with his/her parents' point of view.

We also talked about whether voters relate more to issues or images, to the party or the individual candidate, the local MP or the leader. It depends on the person, but it's interesting to consider when examining one's own convictions.

Just a little over two weeks to election day.

question: how do you decide how to vote?

mompoet - interested in politics, influenced by parents, better informed on over-all philosophy than some of the issues, liking the candidates locally and federally (pleased to have met both) and eternally optimistic that this country and world will be okay

I am Weird Too

Carol from A Revision is collecting evidence of the weirdness from her online friends. She has asked us all to post our reasons for being weird (if we are weird). I don't really know the reason I am weird, and would not dare to jump on either side of the nature vs nurture weirdness debate. I do have lots of proof, however. In celebration of weirdness, here are the first things that have come to my (waking) weird mind:

Five bits of evidence of my weirdness...

By mompoet

  1. I have chocolate in my underwear drawer (also a screwdriver, packing tape, a flashlight and underwear).
  1. I exuberate over peculiar but useful words (and experience an unusual - some would say fanatical and dogmatic - degree of irritation when words are mis-used).
  1. Whenever I put my socks on I practise balancing on one foot (imagine what it’s like when I put on gloves).
  1. I collect beautiful overbites (but I have forgiven my parents for the orthodontia that deprived me of mine).
  1. Some of my best friends are numbers (you should meet 49 – he’s a square of a prime and a stand-up guy).
Question: are you weird two?

mompoet - wee-rud since 1961 (Dad, is that a prime number??)

Friday, January 06, 2006

happy anticipation

Do you ever wake up in the morning knowing that something wonderful is going to happen, only you're still half-conscious so you can't remember what - you just know it's good?

That's an exceptionally good feeling.

question: what's good today?

mompoet - happy

Thursday, January 05, 2006

theatre of the domestic absurd

child: Mom, what are you doing in there?

mom: Ironing.

child: What's that smell?

mom: That's caramel.

child: What?

dad: huh?

mom: It's coming out of the iron.

dad: WHAAA?

child: Why?

mom: I poured sugar water into the iron instead of plain water.

child: Why?

mom: Because Dad watered the Christmas tree with the pitcher I use to fill the iron. Only he left some water in it, and didn't tell me it was sugar water. So I poured it into the iron.

dad: (uncontrollable laughter)

child: But why is it caramel?

mom: The sugar is cooking inside the iron and bubbling out the little holes. See that brown stuff? It's caramel.

child: COOOOOL!

dad: Did you try emptying the iron?

mom: I thought about it, but how often do you have caramel coming out of your iron? I'm just going to enjoy it. Besides, it doesn't seem to be hurting this brown tablecloth one bit.

dad: Okay.

child: Okay.

mom: Okay.

question: what happened at your house today?

mompoet - looking for a can opener that makes fudge

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Fur Kids Play Date

My friend Michele sent me some pictures she took when we went out with the dogs last week. It was a nice reunion for Soleil and Chiclet, who haven't played together since we took care of Chiclet for a week in September. After walking through the woods, we played dog-frisbee with them in the lacrosse box at the top of the hill. (No frisbee, just dogs. People go to four corners and call the canines over in turn. Dogs run from corner to corner to corner as they are called and encouraged, racing, chasing and having a grand time.)

question: what furry creatures live at your house?

mompoet - dogs R fun

last day of vacation

I'm home today but everyone else is back at work/school. It's a little luxury that I will enjoy very much.

I got a few more things done from my list yesterday. All of the Christmas ornaments are put away. The living room looks big and empty without the tree, but we can walk all the way around the coffee table again, which is nice. The thank you packages for festival volunteers are ready to go in the mail when I return to civilization tomorrow. I still have a messy kitchen cupboard and the dog still has long toenails, but that's life. Today I lounge.

I finished listening to Handel's Messiah yesterday and I'm partway through a second listen today. It is glorious. I had previously listened only to an abridged version, in German. The recording that my parents loaned me is in English, and full length, with the words in a book so I can read along. It moved me to tears in more than one place. So very, very beautiful and familiar, and brought to life by the orchestra, choir and soloists. I love the parts based on Isaiah - my favourite verses about the birth of Jesus, and the sad and grim parts are astonishing to listen to.

I am halfway through the gigantic Diana Gabaldon novel, and will continue reading it today. The heroine, Claire, just experimented with home-made ether, putting two young volunteers to sleep to find out how much is needed and how long they stay under, in preparation for a time when she might need to do major surgery. Besides the sex and fighting, the novel is full of detailed descriptions of medical procedures done in primitive conditions. It's very interesting.

I also have a poem bubbling, so now I will go and see if some of it is ready to splash onto the paper.

question: what do you do when you have a day all to yourself?

mompoet - savouring solitude

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year TO DO list - partly done

In a flurry of activity, I have done a bunch of stuff that I meant to do by year-end, but there's still a bunch left... (this is the practical stuff that I worked in around all the fun we had this Christmas)

-oil change
-bottled a batch of wine and started another batch
-mucked out the food pantry so I can reach the shelves
-Alex haircut
-straightened out dental insurance claims issues
-sent rebate forms for cell phones
-made a doctor's appointment
-rescheduled the orthodontist appointment
-got the old clothes to good will
-balanced the chequebook and paid the bills
-started reading a novel
-started listening to Handel's Messiah

-mail thank you notes and cds to festival volunteers
-polish shoes
-make an eye doctor appointment
-write letters to relatives back east and to Barb in Africa
-mend ski jackets and quillows
-muck out the kitchen cupboard
-order Christmas photo prints while they are on sale
-price bathtubs
-finish reading the novel
-finish listening to Handel's Messiah
-clip the dog's toenails
-do the dog's January flea treatment
-take down the Christmas tree and put away the Christmas decorations
-bake muffins

I have two days left of vacation. I really want to spend one day being useful and the final day of vacation lounging. I think I can save Messiah and novel for Tuesday, but I'll have to decide on priorities for Monday. Life goes on and lists go on longer. Tra la la...

question: do you make lists?

mompoet - traipsing the mobius trail of obligation

mathematical verification

My Dad, the Math Prof, sent me an email confirming my assertion that "2006 is not a prime number:"

You're right; hardly any even numbers are prime.

I looked for the most recent prime number year and also the next one. We can ignore numbers ending in 5 (except 5 itself) because they are divisible by 5, and we can add the digits of a number to see whether the number is divisible by 3 (the sum and the number itself will have the same status, since 9, 99, 999, ... all are divisible by 3 and when you add the digits you are simply ignoring 9, 99, 999, ...), and even numbers except 2 aren't prime.

This tosses out 2005 and 2004 immediately (2004 for two reasons -- even, and fails the 3 test), but 2003 needs checking. Out came the calculator and I tried dividing by 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, and 43 checking all the primes up through 43 and then I stopped. The quotient with 43 was 46.58139535 approximately and that's far enough because the next prime to test would be 47 which is past the square root of 2003. So 2003 is prime.

Then I looked in the other direction. 2007 fails the sum of digits divisible by 3 test (every third odd number will) and 2009 turns out to be divisible by 7 (every seventh odd number will be) -- that was quick! But 2011 isn't divisible by the primes 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, and 43 and when divided by 43 yields 46.76744186 approximately, so it's prime.
Interesting that 2010 will NOT be a prime number, nor will 2009, but 2011 will be a prime. In Vancouver we are all conscious of twenty-ten being the deadline for many magificent public works projects all geared to the Winter Olympics that will be held in our city. Maybe, my mathematical superstition suggests, this means that the leadup and year itself will be dodgy, but the aftermath positive??

All that said, I plan to enjoy 2006 even if it is not a prime number. Thanks Dad, for checking my math, and for the projections which are most helpful.

question: what's your favourite number?

mompoet - numbers are people too