Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday afternoon at the movie

Andy and I saw Control yesterday. It's the story of Ian Curtis, lead singer and writer for the band Joy Division (the English band that later became New Order). The movie was visually spectacular and emotionally compelling. Shot all in black and white with lots of tight close-ups and claustrophobic room and stage settings, it feels raw and immediate. I looked up director Anton Corbjin, and found out that he is a photographer and creator of rock videos. This is his first feature film. It makes sense that the movie looks almost like a series of portraits. In the audience I could just stare at the shapes and faces, and felt like I was right in the middle of the events of this short life story. Ian Curtis was a talented writer and singer who lived a short life. The movie tells the story of a man pulled in too many directions. We watch him lose control, and with it his belief in himself. He just can't be all of the things that people need him to be. The sound track matches songs to situations, mirroring the singer's growing feeling of desperation. It's grim and not always beautiful, but as the character says in one scene, "Not all songs are meant to be beautiful."

It's on at the Fifth Avenue Cinema in Vancouver.

question: seen any good movies lately?

mompoet - I love the movies

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tim Horton Haiku

my car first! double-double!
ME FIRST (drive-thru rage)

Dorrie the Little Witch

These books by Patricia Coombs were my favourites when I was little. My Mom read them to me, then I read them to myself, then I read them to my kids. They are still in the library - usually in the "special" section for holiday books, with a jack-o-lantern on the spine, although they are very good year-round.

I love how Dorrie's aunts are oblivious to peril, and how Dorrie gets into trouble by being curious and independent, and how the big witches can't do anything about it, and Dorrie solves the problems in creative and dangerous ways. I also love Dorries' cat, Gink. One day I will have a cat named Gink.

question: have you read them?

mompoet - they are very good

Peter Pan

A new baby chapbook about to be born

The Shoreline Writers' Society Chapbook group met at Helmi's house last night. We talked about our next book, determined the order of the stories and poems inside, and celebrated yet another collaboration. Before Christmas we'll have our book in our hands.

This year's book is our 8th. It's hard to believe we have made so many. This one is titled "Under the Sink" after a poem by Jody Spink. We have 9 contributors this year, and what I think will be our best book ever.

While we drank wine and enjoyed a potluck meal we reflected on many things: past books, and group members not in on the project this year, the process of shared selection and editing, how we release our work into the world, mostly be gifting it to our friends and family, but also with a few sales and the obligatory copies sent to the national library. I have been missing a few meetings this summer and fall, so I felt glad to reconnect with the group. Though we do most of our editing by email exchange, time spent face-to-face is the best, and in a way the reward for all of our work.

We may or may not have a launch, depending on how we all feel. We will all be delighted to receive our copies, and to set our work free into the world. Before that there's work to be done (mostly by Helmi and Fred) to do the copy editing and actually put the book together. At this moment it feels like the 9th month of pregnancy. Soon another book will be born.

question: do you have a group project that you especially enjoy?

mompoet - enjoying this

Friday, October 26, 2007

it just can't be

I am sitting quietly in my kitchen. It's 6:40am. I'm the only one up. Outside my kitchen window is our parking spot and our neighbours Chris and Rhonda's parking spot. There is a scraping sound.

It is not someone scraping frost from a car window. It just can't be.

Puleeeeeeeze. It is only October. I love winter but I don't like scraping. I don't have time for scraping this morning. Please make it be a wolverine trying to remove the siding from my house. Make it an alien emerging from a pod that was buried in my garden by comrades from the mother ship 14 years ago. Make it be anything but frost on a car window.

It stopped. Must not be much frost, or a very small alien, or a non-persistent wolverine.


question: it's still October, isn't it?

mompoet - it's cold and scary out there

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Update on the Cold Wet Weather Shelter Plan

Port Coquitlam City Council has approved it. Here in Port Moody, it's been referred to committee, which is standard operating procedure in our city, but means we won't be able to be the November site this year. Lots of time to be ready to do it next year though. Let's all pray for a warm dry November, in the meantime.

question: why would we not open our doors to welcome people in out of the cold?

mompoet - going now to write my letter to the City Councillors

two compliments

I am frazzled after a 10.5 hour workday starting at 7 this morning, then a too long wait at the blood donor clinic and ooops no supper but I didn't think I'd be there that long. Now I have some egg in the hole and a glass of milk in my tum and the world is turning right side up again. I can reflect with joy and gratitude on two compliments that I received today:

from Kathy: (who phoned me on my cell while I was waiting in the lineup to get plugged in at the clinic so I had to whisper "thanks") "I just want to tell you how proud I am of you for the way you are leading the Artist's Way group. You are a natural teacher."

from Fiona: (who was cooking 'kess-a-dillas" - rhymes with gorillas - like on Napoleon Dynamite while I cooked my eggies) "Mom, you're the expensive smelly cheese that holds this kess-a-dilla family together. Not that you stink or anything. You're just fancy, so you're smelly, but you hold us together."

Thank you very much, beloveds. That was just what I needed as I jambled pell-mell through a day without a moment for which-what-who.

question: did you ever have somebody say the right thing to you at just the right time?

mompoet - ahhhhh

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

3000 visitors?

I'm looking at that little counter in the corner and thinking, "that many people have been looking at my blog?" Daily "unique visits" have been pretty steadily 15-20 per day. Not enough to sell ad space but WOW! Thanks for visiting, Mom, Dad, Fiona, Uncle Tim, Cathy, Laurie, Irene, Daisy, Andrew, Carol, Imran, Shannon, Pearl, Kristene and the other 2 to 6 of you.

You make my day.

Without you, I would be garbling into the void.

question: who'da thunk it?

mompoet - garbling regardless

I always thought "blurts" were good

Low impulse control. Sometimes it's something of a problem, but I like it. I like it when I'm comfortable enough to just say something a millisecond before I even know I'm thinking it. Sometimes I regret my blurts but mostly they are funny, and because I have a good heart and generally good intentions, they are rarely hurtful. Blurts are often my source of creativity. Some preposterous idea will just burble up at a random moment and I will look at it and I will say "I LOVE YOU!" I embrace the blurt, live with it for a while. If I'm lucky it grows into something that's worth keeping and sharing. If not, it's another one of those private jokes that I have with myself, that cause me sometimes to walk around with a distracted grin and giggle to myself for no apparent reason.

In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron uses the term "blurt" to describe negative self-messages that pop out when we are trying to believe in ourselves as creative beings. My negative self messages say things like: "Everything you do is inexcusably derivative" and "You just say that because you think the other person wants you to say that." My blurts mostly centre on accusations that I am not authentically creative. They tell me that I am a bad photocopy, rather than an original when it comes to making art. I'm using some of the techniques in the book to work on those blurts, and help know what to do with them when the arrive uninvited.

In the meantime, I'm hanging on to the positive meaning of "blurt." I think the time for thinking is in the revising process. If I overthink and planfully plan my creative stuff before I let it out, I reject everything before it's born. I must fart first, embroider later.

I have decided there are two kinds of blurts:

blarts (the bad, nasty negative kind) and
blyruts (the juicy, embarassing, exciting, wild, consciousness revealing kind that I like)

So if you see me walking around with a lopsided smile and tears in my eyes, with loose glips and bliggles escaping. If I bump into a lamp post and don't even notice, you'll know I am focusing on the blyruts, and the blarts are two lengths behind me and won't catch up.

question: do you blurt? if so, what kind?

mompoet - was that too personal?

Monday, October 22, 2007


Louise and I saw "Take a Breath" at the Roundhouse on Saturday. Our friend Valerie Methot facilitated a group of people in a community theatre project. Each participant was asked to explore "what is important to you" and present it in a one-minute spot, using movement, music or spoken word. The show was woven together with movement pieces and bits of dialogue that made evident the level of collaboration and loving support that must have been at the heart of the process. Some of the performers were experienced, others not. They ranged in age from teenagers to seniors. It was beautiful and revealing and encouraging.

question: what's important to you?

mompoet - fortunate to witness

Friday, October 19, 2007


This typhoon came across the Pacific from Japan. The weather reports warned us to be ready for the worst. In fact, not much happened beyond a bit of heavy rain. Down in Seattle, though, it was horrendously awful (in a mild sort of way).

Defective Yeti has a great link to KING 5 news where they were clearly grasping for a local lead story. Check it out (and be sure to view the "raw" footage and tell me if you see any horrible wreckage and dire destruction).

question: did people WANT there to be a disaster?

mompoet - flashlight at my bedside just in case, but I think I won't be needing it.

The Number 14

I finally caught the bus. After 15 years of this show touring, I finally went to see it. My friend Robin treated me to an early birthday gift, with a performance of The Number 14 at Shadbolt Centre in Burnaby. This is a show about people on a bus in Vancouver. There are 6 actors who sing, dance, mime, work with puppets and masks and perform broad physical comedy and acute social commentary. The program notes say:

"Our inspiration has been Commedia dell-arte, Monty Python, silent movies, Mr. Bean vaudeville and ritual."

Robin and I laughed our heads off for the whole 2 hours. It was wonderful. If you still haven't bought your bus pass, get one and see this show.

question: did you ever mean to do something for a long time, then finally do it, and wonder why you didn't do it sooner?

mompoet - lucky that there's usually more than one chance to do a good thing

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

permission to be creative

I have started an Artist's Way creative cluster at work. We met today at lunchtime to talk about it, and will meet for 3 more weeks as we begin the 12 week program. The Human Resources Department agreed to advertise it as a "lunch and learn" class. These are one-hour classes put on by employees who have a particular interest or expertise. They're free to attend, and usually fun and informative, and you get to know what your co-workers are interested in and good at.

Our HR department booked a room at the Arts Centre for us, provided cookies and lemon water (we bring our own bag lunches) and bought everyone who signed up a copy of the book.

I was careful when I set this up, not to represent myself as an "Artist's Way Facilitator." I just wanted to get a group of people together who would do the program at the same time, share insights, help each other with roadblocks and have some fun.

If you don't know the program, it's based on the work and writings of artist Julia Cameron, who developed it as a course of study and practice for people to free themselves up to live their lives with a greater creative connection to the universe and themselves. It's a lot about making creative living and thinking and doing a priority, and also shunning the internal censor that says "thinking of yourself as an artist is an egotistical conceit." I tried the program once before on my own and quit after 8 or9 weeks. I figure doing it in a group will be something like a running group. I'm more likely to go the distance if it's not solo.

So today I mapped out 50 minutes of talking and playing to get us started. Eight people showed up, and 2 more will be there next week. We played with plasticine clay, talked about our reflections on the introductory chapters of the book, thought about what might be difficult to do in the program (like daily morning pages, a weekly artist's date, maybe up to an hour a day to read and think and do creativity-releasing exercises). Everyone seemed upbeat and interested. We finished by each writing a letter of encouragement to ourselves. I have the letters and will mail them in a couple of days, so we can receive them just before our next meeting.

We'll do the program on our own each week, and meet to share. In between we can be in touch if we like. After 4 weeks we'll decide if we want to continue in any form (follow up meetings, group emails, maybe a blog) as we continue with the 12 week program. I am hoping that it will mostly be about sharing and giving each other courage. It's easier to tell someone else they deserve to let go and be expressive, curious, playful, connected to a spiritual creator, than it is to say that to yourself. So we can help each other this way.

I'm optimistic, and getting over the idea that it was a pretty vain and puffed-up idea to think I could pull this off. People came, they played, they left smiling. Now I have to let go of that aspect and get on with doing the program myself. Morning pages day 1 - tomorrow.

question: have you done the Artist's Way?

mompoet - liking adventures, especially with other people who prefer a life out of the ordinary

How to make a potato pet

Check e-how for instructions.

questions: have you ever lived with an unusual pet?

mompoet - I think I would prefer a yam

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

some things I like about Fall

1. The rain and the dark. I know it's supposed to make us all feel sad and cooped up, but you can go out in it if you want, so it's a choice really. I like the drama and excitement of the deepening nights. Heavy overcast days and long, pounding rainstorms add an intensity that is profoundly satisfying to me. I like to stay in and look out at it. I like to go out in it. It's wondrous.

2. Sweaters. Any clothing that feels like a hug has to be good.

3. Porridge. I eat it for breakfast through most of the cool months, and re-starting it in Fall is more evocative of the season than even mandarin oranges or cranberries. A steamy hot "bowl o' po" is pretty darn good. My favourite: home-mixed whole grains with dried cranberries and peach yogurt.

4. Wondering about snow. It always falls before my birthday (which is at the end of November).

5. The library. I neglect it in the summer and find it again in Fall. In Fall I fall into novel after novel. My version of the new TV season I guess. I go to our local public library here in Port Moody mostly, but also the branch of the Burnaby Library near where I work.

6. Ice skates. The arena where I work is suddenly full of hockey players, speed skaters and little kids learning "push, push, gliiiiiide."

7. New vistas. When the leaves fall off the trees you can see for miles.

8. Tree shapes. I like to ogle the structure of the trees themselves. I find naked trees much more interesting to look at than trees with full foliage. Each kind of tree has a particular shape and pattern of branch-growth. Early in the fall, the birds' nests are revealed.

9. Everyone is back. Friends, family, co-workers who disperse in summer and break from routines with breaks from work and school return to their routines. I know more reliably where to find people in the fall.

10. Smells. I can smell that loamy leafy smell of leaves rotting in the bush and at the bases of trees. I like that smell.

11. Halloween is coming, and my birthday, and solstice and Christmas. So much to anticipate.

question: Do you like Fall?

mompoet - what's not to like?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

food + safe

After spending the first sunny Saturday in weeks cooped up in the church basement, I know at least a dozen new ways to make people dreadfully ill (or possibly dead) just by cooking or serving them some food or even washing their dishes in specifically careless ways. I also have my Food Safe Certificate.

The course was very interesting, and fun in a gruesomely cautionary kind of way. It was very nice to be able to do it in the familiar setting of our church. The son of one of our church members instructed, and lots of good people participated, including several teens and a handful of people from a neighbouring church. I always find people's questions and comments very interesting in these group learning situations, and there were videos of clueless food service workers bumbling into disaster with ill-informed food handling practices. Even better, the course has been revamped to include modules of "Work Safe" for food service workers, so I discovered new and unusual ways to get injured or ill on the job in a restaurant. All in all, the day was a delicious feast for a people-enjoying lover of dark humour like me, AND I got my certificate.

When I was in university I worked as a server in a restaurant, but that was pre-Food Safe, so the hardest learning I had to do was to memorize portion sizes, main ingredients and cocktail recipes so I could answer customers' questions and make menu suggestions. I remember if you were bad the manager would make you take a pop quiz on these topics, but I must have been good because once I finished training I never did (have to take a quiz that is). If you were good, the manager bought you a drink or an appie at the end of the shift, and we got beer for about a buck a bottle (staff beer it was called). On Saturdays we'd order pizza delivered from another restaurant to our restaurant and sit in the lounge watching Saturday Night Live on the bar TV. (That was also when Saturday Night Live was actually funny.) As far as I can remember, we never injured ourselves or poisoned our customers, so that was good too.

question: is your food safe?

mompoet - vaguely suspicious of lettuce but I'll still eat it

ps. yes, I did graduate from university before Expo 86 - some time before that

late Friday, early Saturday

I'm usually up early on Saturday morning to take Fiona to where she volunteers and rehearses all day, but I'm up even earlier today. I have organized a Food Safe certification course at our church. This course will teach us all how to safely prepare, store and serve food. Churches all over are getting their people trained so when we have community meals, or do things like prepare sandwiches for our downtown mission, we are using safe practices. Twenty-five people have signed up. We have an instructor booked. It's an all-day thing. Unlike CPR/First Aid, you do it once and that's that.

Last night I stayed up late to wait for Alex to come home. He went to the Senior Sail, a boat cruise dance for Grade 11 and 12 students. He will graduate from high school this year. The Senior Sail is the beginning of the social calendar for grads. He was pretty nervous, not being a dance-attending sort of person. The event was formal, so he got even more dressed up than we do at Christmas (first time in a tie). He looked very handsome. When he came home at midnight he was glowing. They had a wonderful time. Lots of friends were on board. They sailed out under the Lion's Gate Bridge and into False Creek towards Science World. He is very glad that he went.

So now I must awaken, pack a (safe) bag lunch and get ready to go. I'm not sure which end is up, but I'll figure that out. I think I'll crash early tonight.

question: had any short turnarounds lately?

mompoet - I really prefer 8 hours on Friday night at least (yawwwn)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

more jello (and some theories)

Mishaps of a minor but annoying sort continue to abound. Gates are locked when they should be open, cooler chests leak onto car seats, file bins and first aid kits go mysteriously missing, wrong numbers dialed, wrong turns are taken, email explosions, appointments missed and misunderstood. I have a couple (or so) theories:

1. Astrologist Theory: It's Mercury retrograde (planet's fault)
2. Scientific Theory: no causal connection demonstrated, so it's coincidence (no fault)
3. Superstitious Theory: it's a poltergeist haunting you, waiting to be released from its compulsion to do naughty things (wee beastie's fault)
4. New Age Spiritual Theory: It's karma (my fault)
5. Pseudo psychological New Agey Theory: It's bad energy being released all around me (my fault or the fault of whoever did whatever made me have bad energy, but mine really for allowing it to affect me)
6. Angry Feminist Stereotype Theory: It's a symptom of oppression (men's fault)
7. Economist Theory: It's because of the Canadian dollar (US's fault)
8. Kindergarten Theory: It's not my fault it's not my fault it's not my fault (your fault)
9. Holistic Wellness Theory: You aren't exercising or eating healthy enough foods so you are out of balance (my fault again)
10. Pessimist Black Hole Theory: life sucks. get used to it (all fault)

question: what do you think is going on?

mompoet - all out of theories

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


at work was a weird, short, swimming-backwards-in-jello sort of day. Then I came home and made a gigantic pot of turkey soup - like all the way to to the top of my canning pot. Then we all had supper. Now there's soup in the fridge and more in the freezer and all is well with the world.

Funny how something simple like that can smooth over the bumps. I made biscotti after supper. Lemon anise. everyone is happy

question: what do you do to calm down?

mompoet - cooking is therapy

Monday, October 08, 2007

a day for excess and existentialism of a domestic variety

Happy Thanksgiving (in Canada anyway).

For you pre (or post) feast pleasure I give you this link to a blog post of a letter to a can of Baby Corn. Found the link on Defective Yeti.

Please read the comments. It's all delicious, everything is there, recipes and childcare tips of course but also race relations, William Faulkner, and some other links including a bent take on the topic.

question: do you like stuff like this?

mompoet - always enjoying a good wallow in an excess of silliness (gobble gobble)

Sunday, October 07, 2007


I finished reading Mary Novik's novel yesterday. Conceit is a strange and wonderful story based on the life Pegge Donne, the daughter of John Donne. It is set in 17th century England, which seems strange and familiar by turn. Real people and places are brought to life as ordinary and extraordinary figures. In the middle of it all, we see Pegge growing up from little girl to grandmother, all the while craving the legendary passion that was shared by her parents and memorialized in her father's poetry.

In between chapters I re-read some of John Donne's poetry and was reminded about how beautiful and also difficult it is. Mary Novik portrays John Donne as a difficult man to know. After his wife's death (in childbirth with their 12th baby), he raised 7 surviving children alone. As a widower, he was appointed Dean of St. Paul's church in London. In his new role, he did his best to suppress the embarrassing revelations of his love poetry. Pegge survives the pox, and cares for her father in his final days, all the while burning with curiosity and longing for a grand passion.

Nature, 17th century English society, art, architecture, religion, upper class home life, life at court, politics, science, medicine and cooking are all woven into the story. I saw Mary Novik read from her book at Word on the Street Last week. One member of the audience asked to what extent she went to ensure the accuracy of the details of everyday life. She answered, "This is my 17th century." She talked about visiting the places in the novel as part of her research, and how the dramatic and pivotal opening scene of the novel came to her when she visited St. Paul's. While I'm no expert, the details feel authentic, and definitely serve to advance the narrative.

I enjoyed the richness of this novel's setting and details, the complexity of its characters and the idea of a life spent in fierce pursuit of a connection that would consume all else. Pegge is a fascinating character. Her thoughts and actions in the story made me think about the things we try to hide about ourselves, even from the people who know and love us best. I also thought about the juxtaposition of reverence and resentment in public and private relationships, and about the idea of how we think about ourselves and who we will be after we die. In all of our lives, no matter where our minds take us in speculation about immortality, there is a strong force pulling us back to what is real, alive, today. For me, Conceit asked me to look at that force from a new perspective. I'm glad I did.

thanksgiving shopping haiku

at Kin's Farm Market
brussels sprouts are going like
proverbial hotcakes

question: did you see the grocery store yesterday?

mompoet - headed for the feast

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Go see this show

Last time it was awesome. It will be again, I'm sure.

question: when you take a breath, what does it sound/feel/look/taste like?

mompoet - breathing in the universe in small sips and jubilant gulps

Thursday, October 04, 2007

cold morning haiku

first day winter coat
cherry chapstick in pocket
tastes like ice skating

question: isn't this too soon?

mompoet - shivvering and sp-p-puttering (and licking my lips and looking for my skates)

Saturday afternoon haiku

two girls cavort in
basement bubble wrap stomp-down
sounds like tap-dancing

question: pop pop snap?

mompoet - happy

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Last night, CBC Radio's As It Happens featured words from Burma's Foreign Minister Nyan Win speaking to the UN General Assembly, and also from Henthe Myint, spokesperson for the opposition National League for Democracy.

Listen here.

Question: Haven't they waited long enough to get their Burma back?

mompoet - saddened, outraged and amazed by the strength of the human spirit


Monday, October 01, 2007

Moms in Action

Thanks for the photo, Karen!

The Mom Song

Thank you Myrna for pointing me to this one:

question: is this familiar?

mompoet - so familiar

Wet Good Festival

Word on the Street was literally waterlogged, but its wonderful spirit was un-dampened. Lots of people braved the rain to hear their favourite authors and poets read and recite, and to pick up great deals on books and magazines. The re-designed site plan was successful. In fact, the location for Poets' Corner was probably better than our usual - less sound interference from other tents and lots more light into the afternoon. Although attendance was down over all, our venue was as busy as ever. The poets on stage were great - a wonderful variety of voices and experiences reflected in their work. As volunteer organizers we were made quite comfortable - there was a lovely volunteer and VIP lounge (relocated from the library to a nearby hotel) and roving pizza-givers to ensure we had something to sustain us when we couldn't leave our posts. I heard Mary Novik read from Conceit and got Marita Dachsel's to sign her book all things said and done for me after I hosted her hour in our tent. At the end of the day I found my feet dry, my head wet, my backpack soaked (no harm done) and my umbrella full of water under a table. We had a successful and enjoyable day.

question: did you ever do a "sunny day thing" on a rainy day?

mompoet - happy, tired and now all dry

water dream

I dreamed last night that I was a lifeguard at a city swimming pool. A large amount of money had to be left on site overnight at the pool. Another lifeguard and I were assigned to stay at the pool all night to safeguard the money until it could be taken to the bank the next day. We were instructed to stay in the pool, in the water. We were given floating devices but warned that the water would be very cold, and we might get hypothermia, so it was important that we keep each other awake so neither of us would slide off the floaty and drown.

I tried to phone a supervisor and say that I thought we could do just as good a job guarding the money out of the water, and didn't we have a safe anyway? but nobody would listen.

question: what do dreams mean?

mompoet - thinking I was thinking I know what I need to worry about and what will take care of itself