Monday, August 21, 2006


It's hard to believe that just two days ago we were locking up the front door and driving down the highway to our vacation. Now we've been in San Francisco for a day and a night. We're staying south of the city, riding the BART in each day. Our hotel is fabulous with a waffle-maker in the breakfast room and free internet.

We saw Mount Shasta, got scared by rattlesnakes, laughed at every funny town-name along the way, rode the cable cars (definitely more dangerous and lurchy than anything at Disneyland), shopped Fisherman's Wharf, toured a vintage square-rigger sailing ship and a turn of the century car ferry and laughed a lot. Today we will take a boat out to the Golden Gate Bridge and tour Alcatraz, then go to our friend Heidi's house for supper. Her request from Canada? Tim Horton's Coffee. We're bringing her the jumbo tin.

I have to go, everyone is waffled up and ready to travel into town. Tomorrow we push on to Magic Mountain for 3 days of roller coaster riding.

question: how did I get so lucky?

mompoet - on the road

Friday, August 18, 2006


We have this pile accumulating of things to take with us to Disneyland. Everytime we think of something, we add it to the pile. It will all go into our bags tonight, the car tomorrow morning.

Fi put the entire nailpolish bag in the pile. We share all of our colours. We actually discussed bringing the whole big cornucopia of talon varnish, but agreed that would be excessive. So we'll choose 3 or 4 colours only. We both like to have bright toes. Fi does her fingernails, but only with clear polish. I never waste my time. My hands are in and out of the water so much, and I like to keep my nails short to I don't claw people by accident.

So we'll pack 4 for the toes and leave the rest at home.

Question: if you could take any 4 colours of toenail polish on vacation, which 4 colours would you choose?

mompoet - wondering what we'll forget...

friendly, friendly, friendly

A year ago Carol of A Revision left a comment inviting me to be part of her Friends of the Friendless marching band. I was curious and flattered to be asked, so I said "sure!" Since then I have met dozens of fellow blog-writers - a diverse community of artists, parents, students, musicians, people of faith, readers, animal lovers and food-fiends, just to name a few. I have found so much in common with Carols FFMB blog-roll that I look forward to the weekly march. Today is the anniversary celebration. Friendly members are marching from site to site, visiting each other. We are reminded that the world is small and friendly, and not matter where you are, and how you're feeling, somebody has just posted something warm, interesting and amazing. And someone is waiting for you to do the same.

Thank you Carol, our Friendly Leader, for inspiring us to know each other in this unique way.

question: have you joined yet?

mompoet - recommending it

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

...and the Tonight Show too!

This afternoon a euphoric Alex phoned me at work. Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) had just dropped by with "some letters for us" and a letter from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I told Alex to open it for heaven sakes and it was what we wanted: tickets to a taping. There's one night when we could go, when Fiona (who's not yet 16) will be visiting with a friend in Palm Springs. I had mailed away for the tickets a couple of months ago and we'd decided that they probably weren't taping that night. But we got them! Mom and Dad picked them up from their US mailbox and delivered them to our door. Now we'll see Jay the night before we pack up and leave LA to start out for home. What a nice ending to our visit that will be. Andy and I have seen Johnny and Jay in previous visits, but this is a first for Alex. I'm looking forward to his enthusiasm. Thank you Mom and Dad, for making Alex's dream come true by bringing us those tickets, and thanks for "the letters" too. We'll treat ourselves to something nice.

Question: have you ever been in the studio audience at a TV show?

mompoet - goo goo over the gah gah

Sunday, August 13, 2006

we're really going

On Saturday we will get in the car and drive to California. We've been planning this trip for a year, and saving for almost 3 to get the money together. Finally it is happening.

When I was very little, I had a love-hate relationship with Disney. I watched "The Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday evenings on CBC TV. I adored my Disney storybook records of Cinderella and Peter Pan (turn the page when you hear Tinkerbell!). But we didn't go to Disneyland because it was so expensive and because our family was a hiking, camping, backpacking family. I learned to say things like "Disneyland is fake. It's not worth it." Secretly I yearned to go.

When mom finished her years as a stay-at-home parent and returned to the workplace teaching high school English, she paid off the mortgage, then took us to Disnelyland. My most lasting memory of the trip is actually of Knott's Berry Farm, and Mom screaming in my ear from her seat behind me on the log ride. I was about 13 years old, and already thinking my mom was hopelessly out of touch with the contemporary world. The Disneyland trip fixed that. We had so much fun in this plastic-fake-over-the-top-silly place that I knew Disneyland was okay, even if it was not the real world, or the only place to go on vacation.

Later, Andy and I included Disneyland visits on our California road trips before kids. The focus was beaches, but we loved the rides and the fun of that place.

When we had kids we bought a house, got retirement savings plans and life insurance and two cars and a dishwasher. We didn't have any money for big vacations so we returned to camping holidays and the occasional weekend in Victoria for family fun. The kids wanted Disneyland, but they understood. Then when Alex was 13 he won a trip to Disneyland for the family, all expenses paid. We flew down, stayed in the Disneyland Hotel and were given the VIP treatment. Alex had a job to do, taping "kid reporter" spots on the opening of the new Tower of Terror ride, so we were in the park before opening, with a Disney TV crew and Disney escort, and lots of behind-the-scenes treats. It was unbelievable, sudden and overwhelmingly lovely. At the end of that trip, we decided as a family to make a real old-fashioned summer car trip our next Disney experience. So we've been putting all of our extra money into a special savings account, researching affordable hotels and planning an itinerary.

We'll drive down. First stop for a couple of days is San Francisco to visit old friends and go to Alcatraz. Then on to Six Flags Magic Mountain - home of the best roller coasters in the western states. Finally, 7 days in Anaheim. We'll go to the beach and Hollywood and of course, Disneyland. Andy will visit the big mecca of Technicolour in Hollywood (he works in the Vancouver lab) and we will have fun. It will be an unreal vacation from the point of view of plastic pre-fab entertainment, but a real one for our family to spend time together and realise a goal we've had in our hearts for some time. We'll spin and turn upside down, scream in each others' ears, stay up too late and lounge by the pool when we're not wearing out our sneakers traipsing the streets of Mickey's home town. We're really going.

question: did you ever have a place you wanted to go?

mompoet - heading south soon

Friday, August 11, 2006

taken by mistake

I got the wrong bagel today
slinking in to work wet-haired, two hours late
grabbing breakfast in a bag
you, dry and well-dressed
ordered next
got mine (I think)
I hope you like everything
whole wheat's okay with me


Other woman named "Sue"
or so you said
took my sushi before I arrived
paid, so no harm done
while the chef sliced and rolled again I wondered,
did you not have time to order your own lunch?
and how do you decide which name to use?
sue for sushi?
pete for pita pockets?
phil for falafel?
or maybe you really are Sue and you just ordered from the wrong place
should I go find and eat your sushi
thus restoring balance to the cosmos?


in the bottom of my
chocolate ice cream
a strawberry

some days are just like that

question: 'djeet today?

mompoet - often confused, rarely hungry

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Some words about our camping trip

in random order

  • Getting ready to leave, I put our precious "border ID" (birth certificates, my citizenship card) on the stairs leading to the front door so we would not forget to take them. Then Alex and I ran to the bank. When we returned 30 minutes later, the the id and the bag that held it were spread all over the floor at the bottom of the stairs, with a hole chewed in the bag. I counted the birth certificates and could not find Andy's. OH NO! The dog ate Andy's birth certificate! Now how will we go camping? How will we cross the border to go to California on holiday in a couple of weeks? I even checked the dog's mouth - Is part of the birth certificate still in there, intact? Then I found it in another place. It was never on the stairs. I will remember that our birth certificates are considered edible by the dog.
  • Driving down to the campground, I recalled I had not said goodbye to the cat. I wasn't concerned that the cat's feelings were hurt, just that she might be trapped in a closet or worse the attic, after the getting-of-the-camping-gear. Using my cell phone from the border lineup, I phoned our neighbour who let herself into the house and could not find the cat. Now I'm worried. Eventually the cat turned up but only after several stupidly panicked cell-phone calls to neighbours and our daughter, who was roamed the house calling for 10 minutes before the cat sauntered into view. "You were looking for me?"
  • It was cold on Whidbey Island. It always is, so I came prepared with lots of layers. After supper I got into multiples of pants, shirts and jackets and Andy and Alex made a huge fire. Luckily we have very warm sleeping bags, although our dog was chilly one night, so I put my fleece jacket on her and she was very cozy. Good thing we wear the same size.
  • There's a naval air base on the island. Every so often a fighter plane or planes will zoom overhead. The town of Oak Harbour is a patriotic place, with lots of navy guys and their families at the grocery and banners welcoming them home. A few years ago, there was a big sign at the entry road to the base. I remember it said, "Pardon our noise. It is the sound of FREEDOM." Now it's unmarked. You'd never know it was there.
  • The sun is like a big orange lollipop when it sets over Vancouver Island in the distance. And you can see the back side (well, a different angle from what we're used to) of gorgeous Mt. Baker from the ferry to Port Townsend.
  • Dogs who walk onto the ferry for a day-trip to Port Townsend stay on the car deck, which might be called the poop deck, but all of the dogs were well-behaved. We rode one way into thick fog with 3 dogs all nose into the wind like they were looking for something. On the way home it was bright and sunny. Andy and I took turns with Soleil down on the dog deck.
  • There is community theatre - The Oak Harbour Players are presenting Alladin through August. In Port Townsend, you can see The Taming of the Shrew.
  • There's a movie theatre in Oak Harbour showing Talladega Nights, Miami Vice and Pirates of the Caribbean 2. We did not go. The campfire is much more interesting.
  • Alex drove all over the island with his learner's license, and Andy and me taking turns co-piloting. He drove 55mph (about 80k) for the first time. He liked that just fine.
  • We drank a $3.50 bottle of wine from the grocery store in Oak Harbour. It tasted okay. But that was at the campfire. It was a fine accompaniment to s'mores.
  • Only at campfire can you eat peanuts at 10:30 at night and throw the shells into the fire. Only at campfire can you stick raw marshmallows inside your glasses and do a Stevie Wonder impression. Only at campfire can you make really bad jokes about lighting farts on fire and everyone will laugh. (Nobody did any actual lighting)
  • We did not sea any walruses or seals or woodpeckers or bears. We did see squirrels and bunnies and a few dead possums on the road. I wished I at least saw a woodpecker.
  • There were hot showers for free at the campground. That was nice.
  • The State Park attendants were comedians working at their day job, I am so sure. Either that or they are very smart and bored so they wisecrack all day.
  • Port Townsend is one part coffee shops, 2 parts new age bookstores and the rest galleries and ice cream parlours. I did find a Mary Oliver book of poetry at a used bookstore.
  • We all forgot our pillows.
  • Wind up flashlights aren't as good as battery flashlights.
  • My mini-maglight is the best flashlight in the world. I wear it on a lanyard around my neck so I'll have it handy. When I bend down to pet the dog I clonk her on the head with my maglight - every time.
  • The dog still loves me, but probably because I feed her peanuts and let her wear my fleece.
Question: do you camp?

mompoet - it was a good trip

do you know mompoet?

A strange and wonderful moment at work yesterday. I'm talking with my new co-worker, Valerie. We're discussing our families and camping. I say, "Let me show you some photos of where we were on the weekend." Then I pull up my blog on my office computer.

Valerie says, "Do you know mompoet? Why are your pictures on mompoet?" I said, "I'm mompoet." Turns our Valerie found my blog a year or so ago when she was searching the internet for mention of a play that she directed. I had seen the play and written enthusiastically about it on my blog. She remembered. The world is small and full of good people who know each other.

question: have you ever met someone who has met you already, only you didn't know?

mompoet - mompoet, yup. that's me

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

wordless wednesday

pictures about our camping trip

question: How was your weekend?

mompoet - words later

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Auntie Again and Barb's Birthday

My brother Mike and his wife Emily just had another baby, their fourth, on Tuesday morning. A healthy boy, 9 lbs 11 ounces. Mom and baby came home the same day. That makes 9 grandchildren for my parents and confirms that the number of offspring increases with birth order in our family. Andy and I have two, Barb and Kim have three, Mike and Emily have four.

Speaking of Barb, it's her birthday on Friday. I emailed her early because of the time difference. They are always a day ahead of us in Africa. I'm not sure if they're still on vacation in Mozambique or back home in Eritrea. Barb usually posts a blog on Wednesday (Thursday to us in the Western hemisphere) but nothing yet. I hope she has an excellent birthday. She'll be coming home soon after her next birthday. I will like that. I miss her. In the meantime, I owe Barb and her family a letter. I am working on getting some fresh photos printed to send, along with a few comforts including a big giant chocolate bar (my favourite thing to send). Kim's cousin Shelley visited Africa in July. I asked her to send us some photographs, as we have seen none (internet is awful in Eritrea, and mail is expensive so we get only airmail mailer type letters). Our kids are all at the age when people are astonished to see them after just a few months. They are morphing into big people. I worry that I'll hardly know my niece and nephews when they return.

Other than that, the world is turning at its usual pace. We're shaking our heads thinking we should be on holiday right now, but we have to wait a bit longer. We've switched our vacation dates this year from second half of July to second half of August. A family road trip to Southern California is shaping up. We are going to ride roller coasters until we burst, and also go to the beach and visit some friends and maybe lie around the pool and read a book for just a bit. When we return it will be time for the kids to go back to school. Life goes by so fast these days.

I can hardly wait to hug Mike and Emily and hold little Mr. I-don't-know-his-name-yet, but I'll probably have to wait a few months because they live 2 days' drive away in Northern BC. I can hardly wait to sit for a few hours or a few days with my sister and ask her every question under the stars about her experiences in her far-away home, and just look at her and hear her voice until it feels normal to do so again. In the meantime, this big happy family of mine is keeping me pretty busy and surrounded by love, which is the most important thing.

question: any new arrivals or special days among your friends and family?

mompoet - milestones flicking by like fence posts