Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Rumblings

I had night-before-event sleep last night. Three hundred sixty four days a year I win the prize for fastest the sleep and sweetest repose, but last night the rain pounded, trains shunted down at the inlet and I actually dreamed wrong times on the bedside alarm clock (How can it be 7 o'clock, then 5:15, then 6 o'clock then 7 again?).

This morning I am a bit grumpy and partly distracted about church because I read in the local paper yesterday that ours is one of five area churches that has applied for approvals to operate a temporary, rotating cold/wet weather shelter for homeless people this winter. I am so excited and delighted about this, wondering how I haven't heard about it until now, thinking (hoping not) it may be a typo or mistake, planning already to volunteer when it's our turn. Also, I'm eager to know that we'll get enough people signed up for a Food Safe Course I've helped organize for our sandwich-makers and banquet-servers. The project is in good hands with me away, but still...

Also, I am dithering about a poem to take as an endpiece to my hosting hour. Usually I have one that chooses itself because I love it so. But this time I'm at sea. Oh well. Something will come up before it's time. I hope.

I know today will be a great (wet) day. It will be funny and delightful in unexpected ways. All of the poets will be comfortable, happy and appreciated, and if they are not all 100% so, it will not be because we didn't do our best. That's all we can do, after all.

question: do you ever grump and grumble then get on with it?

mompoet - stalling in sludge

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday morning vocab by illustration (with links)

cozy - Saturday morning, rhubarb pecan muffins in the oven, new slippers, coffee brewing, North by Northwest on the Radio (talking about cooking)

delighted - driving Fiona to rehearsal soon. She got the part of Wendy in Peter Pan. She will learn how to fly for this production.

anticipating - Word on the Street is tomorrow. Because of the city strike, most of the event has been moved across the street to the Canada Post parking lot. Pouring rain and high winds are predicted. What will it be like this year?

dread head - going to see Julie this morning for a haircut and some colour magic to disguise the silver threads that have grown over the summer - this will involve a very tight plastic bonnet and a crochet hook thingy poked into my head repeatedly (beauty has its price)

disbelief - Dinosaurs in Stanley Park

appreciation - two movies this week: 3:10 to Yuma at the theatre (pretty good), Knocked Up on DVD (starts out crude, ends up sweet, great if you have a taste for the two co-mingled - I do!)

enthralled - reading Conceit by Mary Novik - delicious (she'll be at Word on the Street)

overwhelmed/triumphant - September really is something - we made it, we did it, we got back to work, back to school, toes inside shoes, heads back into routines, phew

question: what do these words mean to you?

mompoet - full of life, full of words

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

some questions are not easy to answer

If a not had a knot in its aught, oughtn't the knot not thought?

question: there it is

mompoet - not

some questions are easy to answer

Are you sure you want to permanently delete the contents of the spam mailbox?

Would you like a pear? or a banana?

Is this the door?

Can I have seconds?

Have you seen the cat?

Is that the furnace I smell?

Do you mind if I park my parrot on your portico?

question: pick any or all

mompoet - easy easy

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the best thing right now

is a bartlett pear, eaten with a cloth napkin, on a bench in the sun.

You need to push up your sweater sleeves because the juice from the pear is mostly caught by the napkin, but not all.

You don't need to zip up the sweater (yet).

question: what simple pleasure did you enjoy today?

mompoet - marking the season in plain and happy ways

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Turtle Valley

I spent last weekend with my women friends, and also with Gail Anderson-Dargatz's new novel, Turtle Valley. Luckily, we are all readers, so my hour-here, hour-there forays into this delicious book were socially acceptable. I have loved the previous novels by this author, and her latest did not disappoint me. It's set in the Shuswap region of British Columbia, on a family farm. The main character, Katrine, visits her aging parents to help them prepare in case an advancing forest fire forces them to evacuate. We meet Katrine's parents, her sister, her husband and her young son, and her parents' neighbour (and Katrine's former lover). We also get to know her grandparents through artifacts revealed during the packing up, and stories (sometimes reluctantly) told by family members. Most of the action takes place on the farm, evoking an intimate and often claustrophobic feeling. The storyline moves easily backward in time, as stories of Katrine's childhood, and her parents' and grandparents' early years are unpacked, dusted off and set out in the light of day.

I loved many things about this story. The characters are cleanly and beautifully drawn, and seem like people I have met, or do thing I have done myself. The son Jeremy responds to his mother's thoughts as if they were spoken out loud, and voices the obvious personal truths that all of the adults take pains to ignore or downplay. The husband Ezra, recovering from a stroke, speaks in a strange language of metaphors that is simultaneously beautiful and frustrating. Parents and grandparents are puzzling and reassuring, strong and helpless by turn, in that way that people are when we love them and know them so well we have trouble really seeing them. Ex-lover Jude is powerfully compelling, as he persists with his raku firing in his pottery studio, even as the forest fire advances.

The other thing I love is the detail of the setting and events. Like the characters, these are presented with just enough information to draw a clear and authentic picture, without bogging down the story. I've been enjoying Gail Anderson-Dargatz's website and reading about how found objects from her own family figure in the story, and how they helped the story take shape as she wrote it. She also talks about interviewing people about their own lives and experiences, and incorporating elements of these stories, along with experiences of her own life and people she knows, to make something that connects to the reader's own experiences.

Then there's the magical realism. Strangely, it didn't even dawn on me that this is part of all of Anderson-Dargatz's novels until I read it written by a reviewer somewhere. Premonitions, apparitions, extra-sensory perception, sensing the thoughts and feelings of others beyond normal reckoning - these things are all so organic to her characters (in this and her other novels) that it doesn't jump off the page and say "Hey! here's the other-world part of the story." It just fits perfectly naturally with the people and what's happening in their story.

Turtle Valley made me think about how things and people change and stay the same, and how our understanding of them and appreciation for them changes with experience and thoughtful and compassionate knowing. In this story, nature compels a major reckoning for a family, forced to make many painful decisions about changing or staying the same. There's a central mystery that is fully revealed in a satisfying ending that took me by surprise.

I am very happy to have read this novel. I recommend it without reservation. I have a borrowable copy, for my nearby friends and neighbours, but I will want it back. This is one that I'll read again for sure.

question: do you find aspects of yourself in the stories that you read?

mompoet - loving a good story

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Word on the Street Vancouver - On the Move but Still Happening

As the Vancouver civic strike continues, plans are afoot to keep Word on the Street happening, even though its usual venue of Vancouver Library and Library Square is behind picket lines and unavailable for the festival.

Here's a link to the WOTS web page that has info and updates.

question: what's the word on your street?

mompoet - hoping that a settlement will be reached soon

Friday, September 21, 2007

Turtle Valley

I finished it yesterday. I'm still letting it sink in, so I'm not ready to talk about it except to say I think it is wonderful. I have also been enjoying the website of author Gail Anderson-Dargatz - great blog and forum, especially the article on "The Art of Reading" in her forum's book club section.

I'm now taking a rest from fiction for a day or two (that's actually an odd thing to say because I know fiction is all around me and inside me all the time - but you know what I mean). I will launch into Mary Novik's Conceit, as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

I'll blog my thoughts about Turtle Valley once I have had some time alone with them.

question - what are you reading?

mompoet - so many books, so little time

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I am the Captain

My pirate name is:

Captain Anne Flint

Even though there's no legal rank on a pirate ship, everyone recognizes you're the one in charge. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

How we got to and from the Sunshine Coast

That's Myrna's van, being towed back to us at the place where we stopped for lunch (and parked illegally) on our way in to Sechelt. The bylaw officers and tow truck drivers are very nice and helpful in Sechelt. Next time we go to Sechelt we will be careful where we park.

The trip on the ferry was kind of surreal. First of all, our Premier Gordon Campbell was on board, just riding like any other British Columbian. He was with his wife and Bill Good from the TV news. Nobody bugged them, which is typical I think of polite British Columbians. A guy's gotta take a ferry sometimes, even if he is the Premier.

Then the captain told us to go look out the window at a cruise ship. Yup, that's a cruise ship, not our ferry. The ship was on its way in or out of Vancouver harbour. I can' remember. I ate too much kettle corn and I was ogling the Premier.

This is where we stayed

It was gorgeous all weekend, then we woke up Sunday morning to rain on the skylights. Even all grey, it was beautiful. This time we barely left the house. Everything we needed was right there.

Wasn't that a party?

Nelson had the time of his life, enjoying slurps and crumbs and vistas and his favourite lady friends. Someone told him he could have all the kettle corn that he wanted. I said "no" but I was over-ruled. Nelson liked it when I am over-ruled. The highlight for Nelson was making friends with a very fancy Chinese fibre optic sculpture that was inhabited by the spirit of Jimi Hendrix.

More Pictures from the Weekend

The weekend is partly "treatsy," partly healthy, mostly fun and playful. Kirsi told me today she thinks we laughed to the point of hysteria several times each day, and that's healthy.

wordy wordless wednesday

Monday, September 17, 2007


After a wonderful weekend, I'm home again, grateful for good friends and feeling renewed appreciation for my life, my home, my family, the people around me. Our trip seems to do that for me every year. Just sitting with the moms who have become my good friends just from living together on the same street does me a world of good. We talk about what's happened in our lives during the past year, share stories about our parents, husbands, children, and everything seems to sift into place. We are lucky to have one another as friends. We also have a few adventures and lots of hysterical laughter, so we come home with new stories to tell our families, and with renewed energy for the busy months ahead.

I'll post some photos and share some of the stories soon here on the blog. For now, thank you friends. Thank you world. I love you family.

question: who's in your circle of friends?

mompoet - thank you Cathy, Kirsi, Myrna, Leanne, Karen

Thursday, September 13, 2007

one more sleep

We're going to the sunshine coast, the ladeez and me. We leave on the ferry Friday morning. We're staying

in the big house
on top of the rock
beside the ocean
in the private cove
with the seals
and corgis
and boats
and Nelson
and wine
and pajamas
and did I mention, Myrna, Kirsi, Karen, Leanne, Cathy
and me
and a hot tub

It's a September tradition. We'll spend the weekend re-connecting and relaxing. I can hardly wait!

question: do you have a getaway that you enjoy every so often?

mompoet - lucky, happy, excited

Word on the Street

is coming around again. I'm helping again this year at Poets' Corner. This year's event is 11am-5pm on Sunday, September 20, at Library Square in downtown Vancouver. Yet another reason to hope that the Vancouver city workers' strike is settled soon.

Here's the Vancouver WOTS website. Come on down on the 30th. It's huge, free, friendly and peopled with amazing writers, poets, readers and book and magazine lovers.

question: what's the word on your street?

mompoet - Septemberizing

Twisted Poets

I'll read at next Tuesday evening's Twisted Poets Literary Salon, hosted by Pandora's Collective. Here's a link to their page about the event.

I have some practising and re-memorizing to do to get ready. When I was at Twisted Poets in May, someone requested that I perform "Mother's Day." I told her that I would do it when I came back to feature. So I have to work on that one because I haven't performed it in several months.

My friend Irene is planning to come with me. It should be a fun evening. There's an open mic, so I'll get to hear her read, along with other great poets who come out for the evening.

question: did you ever mean to type into a browser bar, but accidentally type in

mompoet - sadly, there is no panda's collective

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Queen and the Other Queen After Supper

question: do you ever wear a cape around the house?

mompoet - it makes me feel regal

Monday, September 10, 2007


I ate lunch at my desk today. It was a nice big container of fresh veggies with home-made dip in a separate container. I'm reading email and dipping sugar peas in dip and licking my finger and...what's that? not dip? I look at my finger and it's got some clear gel-like substance on it. Yuk! Investigation reveals that my mini zero-pak frozen thing that keeps food cool in my lunch bag has sprung a leak. It leaked gel all over the inside of my lunchbag. Some got on my veggie container. From there it got on my finger. From there it got in my mouth. uggggg blblblblblblblblbl!

question: yuk?

mompoet - don't lick your finger without looking first

ps - I once ate the little silica pack out of a jar of vitamins because I didn't look and I thought I'd shaken out a vitamin. The lady at poison control just laughed for about 5 minutes.

book thinks

Now that I am in the middle of Ishamael Beah's A Long Way Gone, and Gail Anderson-Dargatz's Turtle Valley is sitting on my nightstand, beckoning, I am having some thoughts about Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. I have told a couple of people that it is "nothing like Harry Potter." But in fact, there are many plot elements and thematic aspects that are very much the same:

  • both are coming of age stories, about a child who discovers he/she is destined for a difficult and complicated greatness
  • both are set in worlds that are based on ours, but fundamentally different because of the presence of magic in everyday life, and the addition of a variety of creatures/species/kinds of people who we don't have in our world
  • both explore themes of good and evil, truth and deceit, especially in the way that the young heroes understand the actions of the adults (authority figures) in their lives
  • both are set partly in a school or university
  • both have a "GREAT EVIL FORCE"
  • both have a benevolent giant who is something of a mother figure
  • in both, the young hero discovers strength and abilities he/she didn't know he/she had
  • in both there is a quest that ends up with unexpected results and a revision of purpose
  • in both there are sacrifices, betrayals, confusion, hardship and extreme danger
  • in both, ideas of society, law, philosophy and to greater or lesser degrees religion are explored through plot, setting, characters and background history
I guess I could say that there are no new stories. In fact, everyone who thinks Harry Potter is a fresh original should read Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising.

Of course, all of these things come from all of the stories we have told each other since the beginning of time. That's how stories work, and that's how people's need for connection and understanding is satisfied. That's why we like them. At least that's what I think.

The Golden Compass differs significantly from Harry Potter in tone and mood. It's written in a more direct and less whimsical style, and it gets to the point more quickly. Given all of that, it is complex and intriguing, and definitely less sentimental than Harry Potter. While Potter and the Compass exist in parallel almost-the-same worlds, if I had to choose one world or the other to explore and have adventures in, it would be the darker and more subtly layered world of Pullman's creation.

In fact, I'm happy that we have both. Lots of readers will enjoy both series, but many will like one or the other for very definite reasons. And everyone should read the Susan Cooper books too. By the way, The Dark is Rising will also be out as a movie, later this year I think.

question: are there any new stories?

mompoet - Lyra's Hagrid is a bear

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Golden Compass

I just finished re-reading Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. I picked it up again because I know the movie is coming out before Christmas. I meant to read it slowly, but I raced through it, just like the first time I read it. It's a wonderful novel, completely satisfying in its ideas, characters and action, and absolutely spellbinding in the way it carries the reader along for a thrilling adventure. I won't say what it's about, because the synopsis on the website does a better job. I recommend this story even more now after a second read. I hope the movie will live up to it.

question: what stories have you read more than once?

mompoet - reading reunions are good

vote for mariangela on famecast

Thursday, September 06, 2007

good news, bad news

The bad news is, I returned to work yesterday. Vacation does not last forever.
The good news is, today is massage day. Students from a massage therapy school are visiting and I'm booked in for an hour this morning. That makes going back to work much better.

The good news is, Nelson came back from the Maritimes. He has a cool new skull and crossbones necklace.
The bad news is, he lost his bead bracelet.
The badder news is, baby rat is missing. He did not return from the trip. We're investigating. It's possible he defected to the Maritimes, but also that he was abducted. Nelson seems strangely calm about the whole thing.

The good news is, it's Thursday already.
The bad news is, I have to work Saturday.
The good news is, I have next Friday off.
The gooder news is, next weekend (9 days from now) is the ladeez weekend to the sunshine coast. We booked the great big house on the rock with the ocean deck again. I can hardly wait.

The bad news is, Andy was in a car crash. He was rear-ended at a stoplight.
The good news is, he's feeling better already and damage to the car is minimal, even though the young guy who hit him has a totally smashed-up front end.
The really good news is everyone is basically okay.

The good news is, the kids are back to school and they like their schools and their teachers and their friends at school.
There's no bad news to go with that.

That's all the news for today.

question: what's new with you?

mompoet - mostly good, mostly good

Monday, September 03, 2007

Thundering Word Heard Again

One of the losses felt in Vancouver's creative community when T. Paul Ste. Marie died this spring was the end of Thundering Word Heard, T. Paul's own open mic for music and spoken word. TWH was a Sunday evening institution at Cafe Montmartre on Main Street. T. Paul brought in amazing features and encouraged many beginning and returning musicians, poets and storytellers to get up on the stage and share their stuff. It was a good show, and a welcoming community event.

Last night, Thundering Word Heard was brought to life again by Bill McNamara and Wanda Sue Nowicki at Montmartre. The restaurant was packed, with people jamming the entryway and spilling onto the sidewalk to get a glimpse and a listen. I didn't stay until the end, but I caught features Valentino Assenza from Toronto and Rob Gee from the UK. It was especially nice to see Rob, who spent a week billeting at my parents' home during the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in fall 2005. There were some great open mic performances too, including a young blues singer/guitarist who had us all on our feet at the end of his 10 minute set.

The night was in part a tribute to T. Paul, and in part a celebration of our community in all its vibrant creativity. I was glad to be a part of it. Bill and Wanda Sue's TWH will continue on the first, third and fifth Sundays of every month, if you want to check it out. Get there by 7:30 for a seat (earlier if you'd like to enjoy some of host Ali's delicious crepes or pizza). Admission is by donation.

question: have you heard the thundering word?

mompoet - hearing it still

the summer's end talent show airport race to the finish

Fiona's friend Adele returned Sunday, from spending the whole summer in Portugal with her family. Fi and her friends had been planning all summer to meet Adele and her family at the airport, as a surprise welcome to Adele, who was sad to miss the summer at home with her friends. When Fi and Shannon were invited to perform in the Parade of Champions, plans had to be changed. The remaining friends would go to the airport to surprise Adele. Shan and Fi would be at the PNE. Adele's friends would bring her to the PNE in time to be further surprised by the appearance of her friends in the talent show. All of this was arrange by emails back and forth between the girls and Adele's mom, who was also in Portugal, and negotiations with various parents here, about rides and fair gate passes and sleepovers. Banners were made, snacks bought. Everyone waited in happy anticipation.

Then on Sunday afternoon, they discovered that the flight had been delayed. It wouldn't touch down in Vancouver until the talent show had already begun. By the time Adele got baggage and cleared customs, and the girls greeted her and brought her to the PNE (about 30 minutes' drive from the airport) the show would be over. Everyone was disappointed, but still hopeful that all of the parts of the plan might still squeak into place.

The talent show began at 4pm. At 4:15, one of the girls phoned Shannon's mom. Adele and friends were in the car, driving to the fair. We knew that our girls were up last in the show, out of 10 acts, but would their friends make it on time? The fair was crowded with people, and car traffic on surrounding streets was congested and slow. I kept looking around for the airport friends but nothing. Backstage, Shannon and Fiona couldn't know what was happening but I'm sure they were hoping for the best.

The talent show was great. We saw a 7 year old magician, a precision skip-rope group, several guitarist/singers of various ages, an 11 year old salsa dancer. Finally, it was Fiona and Shannon's turn. I said a little prayer, but still, I couldn't see a sign of her friends anywhere on the crowded lawn in front of the amphitheatre. The MC introduced our girls and a big cheer went up. A group of girls jumped to their feet, screaming and cheering - the friends, they made it, just in time! Shannon and Fiona sang beautifully and my heart was filled with joy and relief that it had all worked out the way they had planned. Afterwards, you never saw such a grinning, hugging, happy group of girls. Off they went to spend the night together catching up on summer adventures and looking ahead to the delights of fall.

Another surprise, the talent show coordinator offered free ride passes to the girls, enough for all of them. So today we'll drop 6 of them off for a final visit to the PNE. What a wonderful way to finish their summer.

I'm proud of Shannon and Fiona for making it into the talent show (600 acts auditioned, 140 made it the semi-finals, 14 to finals and 11 to the Parade of Champions). I'm proud of all the girls for their creativity and thoughtfulness in engineering Adele's surprise. I'm grateful that they share this kind of friendship with one another, and constantly amazed at the shape that it takes in their lives.

question: did you ever have a race to the finish?

mompoet - marveling

Sunday, September 02, 2007

haikus about bugs in my house

wolf spider, half-chewed
scuttles away from cat-jaws
must have nine lives too


thumb-thick moth buzz-bumps
dusty dull buzzing thuds
on bright window screen

rat-a-tat holiday ending

It's been happening so quickly I have to use bullets and I'm probably not remembering all of it.

In the past few days we

  • Saw my brother Mike, his wife Emily and their four beautiful children, in town from Prince Rupert. Their baby Daniel is amazing, and eldest son James (7) explained the basics of Facebook to me. Sara and Katie are lovely girls. It's been a while since we've seen them, or Michael and Emily, so it was a good reunion.
  • Discovered there's a s 10 Thousand Villages Store in Port Coquitlam.
  • Went out for supper with Andy, Fiona and Alex.
  • Celebrated Alex's service award and excellent performance review at his summer job. They have already invited him back for next year's fair, and invited him to a banquet honouring great workers (there will be prizes!)
  • Visited the historic cannery in Steveston Village.
  • Met Michele and Brent's new puppy, Jackson. He is a cutey, and Sienna is getting used to her new "brother" just fine.
  • Got Alex his parking pass for the high school student parking lot.
  • Participated in the online forum launching the Mary Novik's Conceit and Gail Anderson Dargatz's Turtle Valley.
We have two days left before the end of the long weekend. Then it's back to work and school. We have a few more adventures to enjoy. Fiona and Shannon will perform today in the Parade of Champions at the PNE. I'm going to the new Thundering Word Heard tonight. Tomorrow we'll get together with Mom and Dad, and Emily and Mike and their family (including Emily's parents and her sister and brother-in-law and their children) for a giant table at dim sum.

Our vacation has been wonderful. Staying home was the best choice we could have made. It will be good to get back to work and have a bit of a rest!

question: how much fun can you fit into two weeks at home?

mompoet - full up to bursting