Friday, August 31, 2007

enough with the centrifuge

Alex and I went to the PNE last night. We bought "Twilight Ride Passes," good after 7pm, and maxed out the the rides, with occasional stops for fatty snacks. Alex had been looking forward to this since the fair opened almost 2 weeks ago, and finally he had a night off work.

I am very sure now, that I love roller coasters. I am equally sure that my days of enjoying being tied to a string and flung in wild loops (sometimes upside down) are over. A lot of the rides were fun, but I needed recovery time in between, so we'd ride one together, then I'd breathe out slowly while he rode another on his own, then we'd ride together, etc. My biggest regrets of the night are two rides that I skipped onto without watching first how they worked. Normally, I like surprises, but this time it was a mistake. One was called "Spin Out." It caused my brain to spin out of my nostrils in spiraling loops so that I could not walk or talk normally when it was over. Something about being upside down, 50 feet in the air clamped under the legs of a neon tarantula doing break dance moves. The other was called Orbiter. I call it Vomiter. Luckily I did not (vomit, that is). Getting to ride the coaster in the pitch dark made it all worthwhile. Up at the top of the hills you see the whole fair, but in the looping and rushing inside tracks, it's just dark and clackety and amazing - a study in brown and grey and wind and speed and laughter that's over in less than 2 minutes. We left the park at midnight. The rides were still churning, the mini donuts still sizzling, but we had our night of g-forces and were ready to ride the wild Honda home to Port Moody.

question: what is your favourite carnival ride?

mompoet - coaster, coaster, coaster

Thursday, August 30, 2007

the swoop of late summer daylight

On the first morning of my vacation it was light outside when I got up to drive to the fair to pick up Alex from his night job there. Now it is dark at the same time of morning.

Check the sunrise and sunset times for August - the change is remarkable over the course of just a couple of weeks.

We have been enjoying late suppers during our vacation. When we began our days off, the dishwasher was loaded and we could go out on the deck and it was still light. We face east, so no sunset, but it was still light. Now it is dark by the time the kitchen is all squared away. Luckily we have beautiful patio lights, and the evenings are still warm and inviting.

Soon we will reach the equinox, the culmination of summer's decline. From the first day of the sunny season there is less and less light. The good thing is, from there we speed into darkening, darkening, darkening until we reach the exciting and wonderful winter solstice.

question: do you notice the change in the light?

mompoet - sunny inside and out, but loving the deep dark of winter nights even more

some good TV

Last night I watched a documentary called Crazy Sexy Cancer. It tells the story of a woman who finds out she has incurable cancer, and responds by documenting her exploration of it in a film. We meet several women living with cancer, and find out that while their cancer is central to their lives, it does not define them, or even limit them as much as they thought it would.

If it comes around again, it's worth seeing.

question: seen anything good on TV lately?

mompoet - 101 channels and still a book is the best show on TV most nights


I am at what I think is a Slam Family meeting at a big poetry tournament. There are about 100 people clustered into a hotel conference room, sitting on chairs around the perimeter and on the floor. It's a friendly gathering with lots of people talking and listening. I notice a women interpreting the proceedings into sign language for one or two of the meeting's participants. I realise I'm part of the tournament planning group, and think, "hmmm, we should put up some kind of visual/interactive/graffiti banner so people can record their thoughts and poetic responses to the event in a way that non-hearing people can appreciate." Then I notice that 3 or 4 people are seated near to the interpreter lady, then 6, 7, 8. I notice that the interpreter is conversing only with the signing participants - not out to the rest of the group. Pretty soon more than half of the participants are signing to each other and following the interpreter, rather than participating in the conversation with the group as a whole. The people who have been talking begin to take notice of this. Some get upset and leave. "This isn't what we came for!" they say. I want them to stay. I am left in the room with people who are signing with each other. I am not part of the conversation.

question: what do dreams tell us about ourselves?

mompoet - nocturnal story-dreamer

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

endless summer poundcake

We're still close enough to the middle of 2 weeks at home that the time (and possibility of adventure/relaxation/surprises) seems infinite, or if not infinite, at least vast.

How's that for a t-shirt slogan?

I may not be infinite, but I am vast!

Maybe not.

Anyway, we had a home day yesterday. Alex slept then went out for a haircut. Andy shopped and got some photofinishing done, then bumped into his cousins at Costco and ended up at their motorhome parked in a park in Burnaby for some drinks. I scrubbed and scraped and ensured adequate provisions for a Tuesday barbeque lunch. Fiona returned from one sleepover and packed for sleepover number two in the endless summer sleepover tour. In between dusting and blasting and tossing out things that we don't need, I walked the dog, read a book, posted blog about 4 times (my favourite procrastination). While supper was cooking I baked a lemon pound cake to serve with barbeque lunch. It turned out yummy with blueberries and vanilla ice cream.

After supper Kirsi and I had a glass of wine out on the road while it got dark. Our neighbour Sonya stopped by and told us about the lunar eclipse, and I thought I would wake up and look at it at 3am, but I didn't. I love things in the sky, and I actually opened my eyes and looked at the clock at 3, but I just couldn't do it.

I woke up at 6 this morning, and drove to the PNE to pick up Alex and bring him home. Then I walked the dog again. Then it was time to pick up Fiona and visit the orthodontist then drop her off at another friend's house. Then I came home and we had a barbeque lunch at our house with Andy's cousins and their grandson. Then they borrowed my car to visit with friends so they don't have to unhook their motorhome just to go for coffee.

Tomorrow we will have some kind of adventure. On Thursday I think I'm going back to the PNE for Alex's day off (we will max out the rides at night, which is a lot of fun). And I'll be at the PNE again on Sunday because Fi and Shannon have been invited to perform in the Talent Show's "Parade of Champions" along with a few other good acts that didn't make the finals.

In the meantime I have a couple more books to read and at least one more movie to see, and a bit of back-to-school shopping to help with, and the dog might need to be walked again, and that recipe made a large amount of poundcake so I might have to go find some neighbours to help with it and the blueberries.

question: is it really endless?

mompoet - please don't tell me the truth - I am enjoying the illusion (or perhaps the delusion)

Monday, August 27, 2007

house-cleaning haiku

out of town cousins
care for us, not our dust balls
still, I scrape and scrub

a virtual book launch

My favourite novelist of all time, Gail Anderson-Dargatz is joining with her friend Mary Novik to launch their new novels. It's Saturday morning at 9am. Here's the link if you'd like to join the launch.

I have now read A Recipe for Bees at least 3 times. I laughed out loud in a crowd and cried on the bus while Reading A Rhinestone Button. The Cure for Death by Lightning kept me up all night. I love the novels of Gail Anderson-Dargatz because she gets inside of characters so very well, then transforms your view of the character through the unfolding of the story. When I read her work I meet people who behave in seemingly inexplicable (and in some cases inexcusable) ways. Without directly explaining, the story tells what's going on for those people, and how they got to the actions/reactions in a way that made sense to them. How they got there and where they go is authentic and compelling. Who they are is just awesomely wonderful.

Every first day of school I take the kids to the book store after school. Each gets a book of his and her choice. I know what I will choose for myself this year.

question: why do you like to read what you like to read?

mompoet - it's the people, and their stories, but more so who they are

momma told me not to play with my food

haiku movie review - Superbad

Eighteen year-old boys
want sex more than anything
but find McLovin

question: was it questionable to see this movie with my husband and my seventeen year old son?

mompoet - McLovin and the police stole the show

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Today was the day. I got up early and drove out to Port Coquitlam to the U-pick. I spend 4 peaceful and productive hours, wet-kneed and soothed by birdsong, picking dusty blue gems. I got 32 pounds, a few of which have already been dispatched to neighbours' homes (how can you not share such bounty?). We'll gorge on berries for a couple of days, and the rest will go into the freezer.

I feel lucky that I made it this year. Every time I had a morning open for picking, it was a "ripening day" and the U-pick was closed. Today, rain threatened but has held off. It was lovely and cool between the rows, with no bright sky to squint into, so perfect picking conditions I think.

The frozen berries will show up throughout the winter in muffins, smoothies and tossed into apple crisps for a splash of colour and flavour. I read in the business section of the paper that this year has not been a good one for blueberry farmers, due to the cool, damp weather. I also read that blueberry farming is a growing industry in British Columbia, because the berries are in high demand for their yumminess and health benefits. I hope we'll always have a place to pick them just a few minutes from home.

question: what is your favourite kind of berry?

mompoet - laughing because "yumminess" spell-checks to "gumminess." some days, spellcheck is my favourite comedian

Friday, August 24, 2007

One more Paisley Picture

This is us leaving Bowen Island in the little boat, or as 4 year old Tristan calls it, "my ferry."

question: motorboat, motorboat?

mompoet - unbelievably lucky

channelling my fifth-grader funnybone

I dare you to read this article out loud without giggling.

Just try it.

question: did you giggle?

mompoet - terminally immature

good day

Our neighbours, Chris and Rhonda, invited us to spend the day at their cottage on Paisley Island. We took the ferry to Bowen Island, then drove across to the marina, where Chris picked us up in the little boat to go to Paisley. We had a very relaxing time, exploring, hanging out, and enjoying the two little boys. Now we can all sing Baby Beluga.

Here are a few pictures of our day.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

good movie

I saw Stardust today with Fiona and a couple of her friends. It was a lot of fun. It was written by Neil Gaiman who wrote the awesome novel Coraline and others that I have not read.

I usually don't like Robert DeNiro when he is trying to be funny, but I loved him in this. There is also Claire Danes all grown up playing Gwyneth Paltrow (just kidding). And a hideously wonderful performance by Michelle Pfeiffer.

I recommend it.

question: what movies have you seen this summer?

mompoet - steeling myself for Superbad and anticipating Rocket Science

skytrains and art

Mom and I visited the Monet to Dali show at the Vancouver Art Gallery for a second look on Tuesday. The show was significantly busier than when it first opened, which is good. We could still see the works. I spent most of my time with the surrealists. I like that stuff. We also listened to the 30 minute "show talk" in which the some of the paintings were discussed in the context of the politics/traditions/artistic values of the time. That was very helpful. It explained why some of these images that we find wonderfully familiar were so revolutionary when they were created and first presented.

We also looked in on the Circle Craft Surface design show at the Pendulum gallery. Mom saw some work there by friends of hers. It's a small but interesting show, combining fibre, ceramic and glass pieces.

On the way home I rendezvoused with my friend Jody at a skytrain station to pick up some poems that have been submitted for Poet's Corner at Word on the street. Jody had to wait about half an hour for me to intersect with her, so she got off the train at Burnaby Lake and picked blackberries. I think Jody is resourceful and wonderful.

Then I got home and ate supper with the family. Everyone is all excited about a new camera that Andy just bought - a Canon. The kids know how to use it already, and I'll figure it out soon. Look out for some new photos on the blog.

After supper, Alex drove me to the skytrain and I went downtown all over again for a Poetry Slam Family meeting. We discussed some rules and procedures and pondered whether to make our slam into a weekly event. It was good to see so many people with definite and positive ideas for the slam. We don't meet often as an organizing group, but we put on a great show. I think the time is right for some restructuring to spread the work of organizing out. We definitely have the talent and interest here right now.

Andy picked me up at the skytrain around 10pm. It was a busy, happy day, mostly about art and partly about transit. I got my money's worth out of my daypass.

question: did you ever have a zigzag day?

mompoet - good zag, yes it was

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


We went to the PNE on Monday. Fiona and her friend Shannon sang in the Talent Show semi-finals. Another performer won, and will move on to the Finals. Shannon and Fi still feel great about making it, and about their performance. They're at the bottom of the age class, and pitched musical theatre against a magician, a jazz dancer, a rock band, a classical pianist and a jazz singer with a band (the winner). We're very proud of them.

After the talent show, Andy stowed the costumes and gear in our car, and we went off to explore the PNE. The girls and their friends went off in one direction and we in another, with an agreement to meet at a central location later in the evening.

Andy and I went with the singing teacher and Shan's parents to the "Marketplace," the building where you can buy everything from massage chairs to cheap watches to fudge to laser teeth whitening (on the spot!). Elaine, the teacher, asked us to help her look at a garment steamer machine to replace the one she currently has for shows and festivals. We got the full demo and sales pitch, which is a performance in itself. Elaine will be back a couple times to cheer for other students in the show, so she didn't buy today, but may later.

After that, Andy and I explored on our own. We decided to do things that we don't do when we're with the kids. The fair was uncharacteristically un-crowded, probably because it was a rainy/sunny Monday. We waltzed right into the PNE prize home without lining up. It's a nice house. You can buy lottery tickets to try to win it. After the fair, they put it on a barge and install it on a lot in Sechelt. We talked about the logistics of having a house in Sechelt. Would we move? use it for weekends? rent it out? sell it? It's nice to imagine a problem like that. It does come with a powerboat, so we could commute, I suppose.

We also looked at the home improvement building, but it looked too much like the marketplace, so we didn't stay long. We didn't go to the Superdogs for a change, but it turned out that the girls did. And they got called to the middle of the arena to do the macarena, and when the host saw their Talent Show souvenir t-shirts, he made them sing their song to the crowd, which is usually pretty big even on a slow day. They got to judge the dogs too. So then we wished we'd been there, but that's okay.

In the meantime, I called Alex to check in. He had been asleep when we left. I called at 4:30, 5pm, 6pm, and left messages. Now I was starting to worry. Usually he wakes up at 2:30. Finally at 7:15 I phone my neighbour Cathy and asked her to go to our house and check, and make some noise to try to wake him. She arrived to find Alex wide awake and laughing about his worry wart mom. He had slept for 12 hours, what's the big deal? I was relieved!

We grabbed some supper from the vendors (smokey for Andy, samosas for me) and sat down for part of the Pointer Sisters concert. They sound and look like they have taken very good care of themselves and their voices. It was a good show. Then we wandered off to see the late show of the high divers. By that time we were tired of sitting on the grass, so we hung back and enjoyed a bench down the roadway a bit. The high dive show is goofy and slapstick, and apparently there's a "cute diver" but we were too far back to know it. The girls enjoyed the show so much they saw it twice.

We had heard that mama pig gave birth to her litter overnight, so we visited the barns and admired the many animals raised by 4H kids. Then we found the pig and piglets. Mama had been sleeping all day, after labouring all night. Six babies were born, and five survived. The babies were about 8 pounds each. One was walking around already. They were very cute.

Outside the barn we found the girls. Together we watched the "Toon Time" parade (they have two friends performing in it) and left for home soon after that. It was a good day at the fair.

question: have you been yet this year?

mompoet - glad I went

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hey! Lego me!

Now you can make your own lego self at this website. Here I am.


I thought I was looking forward to sleeping in during my vacation. Then I remembered that Alex is working nights at the fair for the whole 2 weeks, so I will be getting up every morning at 6am to go pick him up and bring him home. He's driving now, and could have my car overnight, but he's concerned about driving home tired. I think this is good. He's a new driver, and I appreciate his caution.

So I get up at 6, let the dog out, feed the noisy cat and the smiling dog, make some coffee and drive into Vancouver. The fair is still in slumber mode when I arrive, with only security guards and one lone parking attendant to let me in to where Alex and I rendezvous. He is heavy-headed when I meet him, staying awake for the 15 minute drive home, then crashing immediately when we get into the house. So far he's been sleeping 7 hours straight and grabbing an after-supper nap, so I think he'll manage the nights okay. He hopes to do well enough this summer to apply for a transfer to a day job next season.

Every morning on the way home I think that I'll just go back to bed when we arrive at 7:25am, but so far I have not. There's something extra luxurious about our quiet house early in the morning. Everyone is sleeping. Even the cat and dog, full-tummied and comfortable, are snoozing. So I can savour a cup of coffee and curl up in the couch and read. I try to be as quiet as I can so they'll sleep longer. It's that nice.

I have never lived by myself. I moved from my mom and dad's place to living with Andy in my last year of university, then we got married, then we had kids. Except for a couple of times before we had babies, when Andy went away for a weekend with his friends, I have not even spent a night in any place all by myself. I wouldn't trade Andy and kids for the world, but I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a place that is just mine, and the choice to be with people or all by myself. I suspect I would like it for a short time, but I would be lonely and end up finding a room mate and/or a pet pretty quick.

I guess these early mornings are the best of both worlds - all the peace and quiet I really need, with people who I love waiting around the edges for the happy, busy noisiness that is our every day. I'm glad I have both close at hand.

question: do you like mornings?

mompoet - diving for a book

Saturday, August 18, 2007

referring links

One of the interesting things about having a counter on my blog is I can find out how people found my blog, or at least the last place they went that pointed them here. Sometimes it's another blog, but often it's google, which means someone found me randomly while googling a fairly obscure topic. Well, obscure enough for my blog to show up on the first page of a google search. Today I think I found the capper search string so far:

Cooking Lessons sassenach draco hermione (googled by someone using an Australian ISP)

I wonder what that person was looking for? Interestingly, in June and July there were a rash of referrals (from various parts of the world) from people googling

celebrity overbites

And I have received visits from people in various places googling


These google searches have led to my posts about Harry Potter, my obsession with famous people with cute overbites, and a post about one of Andy and Tom's reno projects at our house that left us totally toilet-less for part of a day. I hope the people who visited got what they were looking for, and if not, they found it somewhere else.

The counter doesn't actually tell you who it is, unless it's someone whose IP address you have memorized. So far I haven't done any of that. I just find it interesting to find out how someone in Saudi Arabia came across my blog. Then I discover he/she was just looking for a post combining jellyfish and dental floss, and think, "Oh well, I guess not many people post about that topic so here I am!"

question: to whom to you refer, and from whom have your referrals come?

mompoet - point of reference, although I sometimes miss the point

late summer haiku

sideways glimpse of your
darting dragonfly path you
are gone before I

question: did you just see that?

mompoet - I think I did


This morning I randomly looked up my very first post and what do you know - I began my blog on August 18, 2004, three years ago today! (I was going to say exactly 3 years ago, but then my mathematician dad might comment on the lack of precision and accuracy in that statement).

Here's a link to that first post.

question: have you experienced any coincidences lately?

mompoet - coincidences happen on purpose

vacation begins

I meant to begin my vacation at suppertime Thursday, but I had a few things left to do, and a supper date with Andy, and my Mom and Dad at 6:30. Mom and Dad treated us to a szechuan meal in honour of our 23rd wedding anniversary. So I stopped working, and just enjoyed time with my husband and parents.

Friday I sneaked back into the office for a couple hours just to be sure everything was in good shape for my work partners, Mary Anne and Mary Anne, who are taking care of things in my area while I am away. Thank you Mary Annes!

On the way home from work I bought a great new tablecloth for the dining room. I like fabrics and colours and rearranging things to look a little different. Our home is small, but bright and friendly. It's amazing what a difference a tablecloth or candle or picture can make to give a room a new little spark of energy and comfort. I also stocked up on fruits and veggies, then turfed out the layabout leftovers and reorganized the fridge. I want to do some cooking while I'm on vacation. When we go away, I think it's cooking that I miss the most. As well as providing good stuff for my family, cooking makes me feel relaxed and centred. It's a creative and productive effort that I find deeply satisfying.

I was thinking about attending the Maple Ridge Poetry Slam Friday evening, but I got a call from my neighbour Cathy. She asked if I wanted to meet with the neighbours for supper on the street so I decided to stay home for this spontaneous block party. It was great getting outside with all of our friends from the neighbourhood, and the supper was yummy.

Last night was Alex's first night at his new job. He's doing night shift sweeping at the PNE for the next 2 weeks. I drove him to the fairgrounds just before midnight, then came home and crashed. I was up again at 6 to go pick him up. So much for sleeping in during vacation! We'd rather drive him than risk having him drive home tired, so it's either us or the bus, depending on whatever is happening that day. He told me that work was "easier than I thought because everything is well lit up." I guess he was concerned about working in the lonely dark, but he's part of a crew of workers, so it should be okay.

This morning I will lounge with the Saturday paper after I decide whether I want watermelon or cantaloupe for breakfast (I love summer). This afternoon I'm going to the church to help with the Gogos storytelling session. Fiona returns from her week away this afternoon, and Alex works again tonight. Maybe we'll go out to a movie, or maybe we'll rent one. Right now our two weeks are stretching out ahead like a happy forever. I like this feeling.

question: which do you prefer - cantaloupe or watermelon?

mompoet - dipping my toe in the water

Friday, August 17, 2007

utah mine haiku

I would split the earth
like a watermelon and
let them all crawl out

question: don't you sometimes wish?

mompoet - hoping and praying

shifting into the ending days of summer

By lunchtime today I will be on vacation. Last year we took that road trip to California for 2 weeks. The minute vacation started we were in the car and adventuring, right up to 24 hours before time to return to work and school. It was marvelous and I missed home.

This is a good thing. This summer we don't have the funds for a vacation (last summer's required about 4 years of saving and planning). This year we're vacationing at home. Luckily, we live in a place where people pay tons of money to come and stay and visit. We're going to have some fun day trips and also enjoy our home.

Alex has a 2-week job at the PNE. Fiona finally has some time off when she's not in an all-day camp or out of town visiting with friends (she's been on Vancouver Island all this week, with a friend).

Andy and I have been looking forward to a break from work. We have a few places in mind that we'd like to visit for day trips. It will be nice to sleep past 3:45am (Andy) and 6am (me). I have a list of movies I want to see, and a pile of books I want to read. Near the end of the month, my brother and his wife and children will visit from Prince Rupert.

So far the summer has sped by, full of work and fun and way too fast. Now we're going to make it slow down, and enjoy the last part in a different way.

question: how is the end of the summer looking for you?

mompoet - my deck is calling me, just let me grab my book and iced tea. there.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Good news about the environment

Matthew Baldwin has this linked from his delectable Defective Yeti.

question: what do you think was the problem?

mompoet - steering clear of the environment

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

supper time haiku

barbeque tomcats
broadcast back porch machismo
HEY YOU! smell my meat

question: what's cooking at your house?

mompoet - smelling it, up and down the street

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

NASCAR - yeah!

Stephen found this and put this up on his blog, From the Edge to the Centre.

NASCAR Coach Reveals Winning Strategy: 'Drive Fast'

question: do you watch NASCAR?

mompoet - snickering

Monday, August 13, 2007

Gogos will Visit St. Andrew's United on August 18

On Saturday, the Coquitlam Area Gogos will host a storytelling session at St. Andrew's United Church in Port Moody.

Saturday August 18
St Andrew's United Church
2318 St John's St, Port Moody
Admission $10 at the door
Proceeds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation

Kids will love it. Adults will too. It's for a great cause. Read the Greater Vancouver Gogos newsletter to find out about their work networking with African Gogos and their efforts to fight the spread of HIV and AIDs in Africa.

question - are you a Gogo?

mompoet - awed by the power of determined love

Saturday, August 11, 2007

haiku of admiration

you're original
like a salad spinner full
of clean underwear

More news from Nelson

Nelson emailed to say that he's home from PEI, bunking just up the street with Cathy until his jetlag feels better. He sent me a few more photographs of his Prince Edward Island adventure. It looks like he had a lovely adventure.

question: if you were Nelson, where would you like to travel?

mompoet - Thank you Cathy!

Friday, August 10, 2007

An email photo from Nelson

Nelson just emailed me from the plane, on his Maritime vacation. The email says it was sent by a Blackberry, so he must be hanging out with high-tech travellers. He told us he's going to Cathy's family reunion in Prince Edward Island. He also mentioned something about Avonlea. Hmmm, Nelson of Green Gables? Maybe.

question: have you been to the Maritimes?

mompoet - I have eaten a blackberry, but never emailed with one

and another thing about Potter 7

Molly Weasley rocks.

haiku review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (no spoilers unless you speak haiku and have read the book so it's not really a spoiler anyway)

show me your Snape's head
soup and Jesus ninteen years
later - sure I'll bite

mompoet - always enjoying haikus with titles of more than 17 syllables

I am sure this is what I heard on the radio:

In two different newscasts...

Soon, adolescent girls will all be immunized against the Human Pamplona Virus.


The man was shot in the eye with a BB gun. He was riding his bicycle when a car pulled up beside him, rolled down its window and shot him. As a result he lost sight of one eye.

question: would I make these things up?

mompoet - I will be sure to get the vaccination before I go to Spain. Also, I thought it was illegal for cars to carry guns. Also, I will go help the man look for his eye. No wonder he can't see it. He just got shot in the eye by a car.

I know, word nerd.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Potter, phew!

Alex and I finished the story tonight. We are happy with the ending. We loved the last book. Reading it together was a treat. Everyone who knew the ending refrained from leaking information. Thank you everyone.

question: did you like the story?

mompoet - I was right about everyone. everyone. phew

Cake and Pie and People who I Love

Barb celebrated her birthday with us. Mom made an angel food cake. A couple of days later, Maya and Fiona made a blackberry pie with berries that they picked at my old elementary school. It was their first pie. I think they should make pies as often as possible. They are good at it.

question: what sweetness lurks in the happy corners of your life?

mompoet - licking my fingers

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Monday morning of a long weekend
she opens one eye to check the clock
reclaiming her share of the sheets, she turns to sleep again

she’s aware of a sound outside
must be someone mowing their lawn
with a handmower
the rhythmic push, rest, and spin of it
thoughtful not to break the morning too early with motor sounds
she thinks
and sleeps again

some time later
eyes still shut tight
she knows from stillness he’s awake
the mower’s still mowing somehwere out back
what time is it?
9, he says
she’s on top of the sheet, he’s underneath
silly morning sandwich in a bed all askew from dream-wanderings
she opens eyes
“if you let the dog out and come back, I’ll stay”
takes 5 minutes to register, but he goes
she jumps up to pee, fluffs pillows, straightens sheet and crawls back in
the mower still mows

who is mowing and where?
our yards are too small for long mowing like that
is someone cutting hay? or grooming a putting green?
maybe it’s someone thinking while they mow
someone who lost track of the mowing while
sorting out a problem
maybe it’s a man whose wife left early to work at the hospital or 7-11 this holiday Monday
maybe he’s got nothing to do and he wishes she’d stayed
so he mows the lawn and thinks about what (or if) to say

maybe his wife didn’t come home last night, after her shift as an
ambulance driver
maybe he knows in his heart that she’s left him for the other ambulance driver
or the admissions woman at the hospital
because she always phones him when she works a double shift
so she must be gone
and he’s crying while he mows the lawn

maybe it’s a woman mowing the lawn
her kids are inside eating Captain Crunch
watching cartoons
while her husband pops out to get the paper and Starbucks for both of them
so they can sip and read while the kids veg in their pajamas
but first she needs to mow the lawn

maybe it’s a young man whose parents are coming home
after leaving him the house for the long weekend
(he only had one small party on Saturday night
and nothing got broken, and he’s tossed out the beer cans)
he just remembered that he promised to mow the lawn
while they were gone
and they’re due back at noon

now it’s 9:17
and she thinks how her husband bought a handmower last year
maybe the neighbour borrowed it from their backyard
not many people have handmowers
maybe her neighbour left the gate partway open
the latch is tricky
and when her husband in his dressing gown and no glasses
let the dog out to pee
the dog found the open gate and escaped
now her husband is roaming the neighbourhood calling for the dog
before he finds the dog, he’ll meet the neighbour mowing the lawn
and find out who it is, what’s the story
he’ll come back and tell her
only it can’t be as interesting as she’s imagined

for old married couples,
morning sex is like those two bags of bagels waiting in the cupboard
a matter-of-fact choice of multi-grain or everything
or maybe just coffee for now
nourishing and predictable
no bedsheet havoc or vocal abandon
(especially with teenage offspring still sleeping nearby)
a happy choice with little pressure
there’ll always be more available
whenever you’re really hungry

he slips through the door
and into the sheets, open for him
“they’re fed” he says
“I know” she says
outside the handmower is silent

Monday, August 06, 2007

Eritrean Coffee Ceremony Part 1

As we arrived for our first Eritrean coffee ceremony, Barb washed the serving cups, spoons and saucers in our presence. She had lit a charcoal fire in a small burner. She measured unroasted beans onto a mat, and sorted through them, discarding any that were not just right.

The beans went into a long-handled roasting pan, Barb fanned the coals with the mat, as she roasted the beans over them. As they darkened, a delicious smell developed.

The roasted beans were presented in the pan, to each guest, to smell and pronounce ready.

Once the beans were roasted, she poured them onto the mat for inspections and gently rolled them to remove any loose husks left.

Barb ground the beans with a heavy metal bar in a grinding cup. She poured the ground coffee onto the mat and funneled it into the brewing carafe, in which water had been heating on the charcoal burner. She watched the brewing coffee carefully so it did not boil over. When it boiled, she set it on a stand for a few minutes while she prepared to serve it.

Eritrean Coffee Ceremony Part 2

When the coffee is ready, some incense is lit, and three spoonfuls of sugar are placed in each tiny cup. The coffee is poured in a continuous stream to each of the cups, and served, first to the eldest person present and then to everyone. Everyone must sip and pronounce it "Good coffee!" or Barb might just dump everything out and begin again so that it will please us all.

The coffee is sweet and strong (Barb said she made it not as strong as in Eritrea) and very nice.

Treats are popcorn, cookies and candies, first tossed around the room to feed the witches in the house, then served to us to enjoy with the coffee.

The coffee is re-brewed and poured again for a total of three rounds. Guests must drink coffee in all three rounds. It is not polite to stop or leave before the ceremony has been completed.

Kim dressed like a Muslim man in Eritrea, and we listened to Eritrean music while we enjoyed our coffee ceremony.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Alex and I are in the home stretch of our read-aloud Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Project. So far we have been fortunate to avoid any spoilers, although most of the people around us know what happens at the end. I have avoided surfing to any websites that might have unannounced spoilers. Wouldn't that be an awful way to find out?

So far this final novel is not disappointing us, although it has a very long setup (past halfway through the book, by my analysis). Now we're hurtling toward the conclusion so the reading rate has accelerated. In the meantime, if I begin to hear anybody discussing it, I just plug my ears and sing "LALALALALALA!"

question: did you read it?

mompoet - please don't tell the ending

summer is beautiful

Andy and I walked into Port Moody Centre on Saturday morning. We stopped for an ice tea and shared a treat with the dog. On the way back I stopped to photograph these summer delights.

question: what grows near you?

mompoet - I love hydrangeas

Friday was something all right

We are enjoying our visit with my sister and her family, just home from 2 years in Africa. On Friday, I booked off work. The kids hung out together at our house, and Mom and Dad relaxed at their house, while Barb, Kim and I set out on a quest for unroasted coffee beans, and a grill for cooking injera, the bread that is the basis for most meals in Eritrea. We found the beans easily at JJ Bean on Commercial. They will be used for an Eritrean coffee ceremony. We also stopped for a coffee and I bumped into my friends Alyssa and Nola, and Alyssa's baby Iris. I hadn't met the baby yet, what a treat! She had a purple tongue, and was wearing a t-shirt painted by auntie: "The seahorse is the the only fish with a prehensile tail." Cool baby.

Meanwhile at home, Mom was baking an angel food cake for Barb's birthday celebration. Overbaked by just a few minutes, the first one collapsed out of the pan too early during cooling, and "flumped." Mom started again, baking another cake from scratch.

Next stop for us was an Ertirean restaurant a couple of kilometers down Broadway. Barb and Kim had found the address on the internet. After fruitless telephone and internet searching for a direct source for their injera grill, they thought they might get some info from a restaurant. Before we hopped in the car again, we strolled commercial. I saw Nora (in town from a summer job in Anchorage to accompany the Van Slam Team to Nationals in Austin) and Jeremy and Jeremiah, enjoying a late breakfast at Cafe Deux Soleils. This was turning out to be a nice, friendly day. We continued on and spotted an Ethiopian restaurant that was open, right on Commercial Drive. The lady there said she know where to find a grill, but when she called her connection, they had none. She did offer to sell us some injera, made by the cook at her restaurant. We thanked her, and continued on to Broadway.

At The Red Sea Cafe on Broadway, the owner was friendly and welcoming, and somewhat amused to meet my sister and her husband, so well-versed in Eritrean cuisine and way of life, and speaking some of the local dialect. He gave us a phone number and location (back on Commercial) to buy the grill. Then he served us up some "foul." In Eritrea, "foul" is peanuts, peanut butter or bean dip. We had the bean dip, served with warm buns. It was yummy. We also had some sweet cinnamony Eritrean chai.

We thanked the restaurant man, and left, then phoned the place for the injera grill on my cell. They had one! When we got there we laughed. It was three doors down from the Ethiopian restaurant where we had inquired an hour earlier. The Abyssinia Grocery looks like a corner store, but in the back there are East African foods, and they had a few of the grills to sell. Barb and Kim took one home, very happy.

We returned to my house, where the kids had walked the dog, played video games, make lunch together, and the girls had baked cookies and a birthday card for Barb. They baked the two parts of the card out of lemon shortbread cookies and decorated them with coloured icing. Barb says it's the most original birthday card she has ever received.

We all took a break for a couple of hours. Maya is studying for exams, so she did some of that. I read some more Harry Potter with Alex (we are going slowly). I wrapped Barb's present, then searched my freezer, and located some frozen strawberries to add to the cake later in the evening. Around 6:45 we headed out for a restaurant supper.

Our first wish was to go to our favourite Capitol Hill Szechuan Restaurant in North Burnaby, but they are closed for three weeks of vacation, opening the day after Barb and family leave for their home in Cranbrook. As much as they have been looking forward to dining at Cap Hill, they'll have to wait until their next visit.

We located another Szechuan place where Andy and I had eaten when we lived in South Burnaby, but they were booked for the night and couldn't accommodate our big party. Finally Barb succeeded in making reservations at a third Szechuan place, where I had heard some co-workers had approved of the cuisine. We rendezvoused there, only to discover it had morphed into a restaurant with the same phone number, but a different name. The menu advertised "Chinese and Western Food." This is not our kind of Chinese food, so we drove back to North Burnaby to try Szechuan restaurant number four. It occurred to me that having 4 (or may just 3) decent Szechuan restaurants in one small city is a pretty good problem to have, but by this time we were tired and hungry, and had run around enough. We got to the Plan D restaurant to discover that it is closed on Fridays. Who ever heard of that? Oh well. There was a sushi restaurant next door, so we switched countries and had a great Japanese meal. The place was hopping, but a big table was just leaving as we arrived, so we were served quickly and we had a lovely time indeed.

At home the cake was tall, and light and yummy. Barb enjoyed her gifts. We all breathed out, then closed our eyes and said, "Time to go to bed."

The coffee ceremony, goat stew with injera and the much anticipated family game of balderdash are still waiting to happen. A really good Szechuan meal looks not to be in the cards for this visit. Things are never quite what you'll expect them to be, but usually they are delicious anyway.

question: have you ever been on a quest?

mompoet - enjoying minor and benign unpredictability

Friday, August 03, 2007

sunny day driving in the car haikus

Otis all low-fi
mono man okay today
my dock of the bay

my my Lady Day
sweet wine only half drunk up
sad songs make me smile

Ella Fitzgerald
forgets the words to Mac the
Knife - I grin with her

question: what tunes play out your summer day?

mompoet - groovy

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Birthday Cake

last eatburn post

My sister posted her final Eatburn Chronicles Blog, about the family's return to Canada. Check it out here.

question: have you ever been stuck on a train when the doors closed?

mompoet - encouraging Barb to start up the "Cranbrook Continuation"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

so much for wordless

Oh, another cause for celebration. My union reached a tentative agreement with the employer for our new contract. Meeting tonight, ratification vote tomorrow. Looks like no summer strike for us.

question: did you ever go on strike?

mompoet - relieved


zamboni awakes
after brief hibernation
stay behind the gate

wordless wednesday