Friday, November 30, 2007

Some pictures from my birthday

Birthday Weekend

Yesterday was my 46th birthday. My gift to myself was to have a weekend full of stuff that I want to do, so...

I worked just half a day on Thursday. This half day included a one hour break for a massage appointment. My employer arranges for massage therapy students to come in and do massages for their practice work. I had a one-hour lovely treatment for my tight trapezius and sub-occipital muscles (upper back, shoulders, neck). That was great! Then at the office we spent the lunch hour building festive hanging baskets for our skate lobby. We had a potluck lunch too. I brought a birthday cake that I baked for five of us who all have birthdays about this time. We all sang, and the five birthday girls blew out the candles.

After the lunch I went to the movies by myself. This is my idea of the happiest, most indulgent way to spend an afternoon when life is just too busy. I can check out for a couple of hours, go to another world, and be there by myself. In the darkness of the movie theatre the disconnection from all other distractions is almost complete. I love it.

I saw Lars and the Real Girl. It's about a man who is disconnected from the people around him, unable to respond to love or express his emotions. He gets a life-size plastic woman doll and interacts with her as his real life girlfriend. His family thinks he is having a mental crisis, so they consult his doctor, who advises them to go along with it and behave as if the doll is a real person. Pretty soon the family and the whole town has embraced "Bianca," as a real person. It sounds really weird but it is very good. It's not crude or silly. It's very tender, in fact. There are lots of funny parts, and sad ones too. Mostly it's about love: how we give it, how we accept it, and how we learn to do these things. If you haven't seen it, hurry and do. It will be out of theatres soon, and it won't be the same on DVD.

At home after the movie, I hung out with the family a bit, then we went over to my parents' house for supper. Mom made a beautiful Thai food supper, and Fiona brought her specialty chocolate layer cake. It was very nice. We were home before 8pm, and I crashed before 11. Oh yeah, we watched the DVD of Hairspray. Well, I watched about 80% of it, in between naplets that kept capturing me on the couch.

Today I'm off work again. Fi has a Pro D day from school so we'll do a bit of shopping. I went to the gym this morning and got a new workout from my friend Adriana, who is getting her personal trainer certifications, so I am one of her practice clients.

Lots more fun coming: Andy's work Christmas party at a fancy restaurant, Fi's Christmas recital, and of course, snow. We're ready for it. It may mess with our plans a bit, but that's okay. We'll work around it and enjoy it.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me emails, facebook greetings, cards and sweet surprises on my doorstep and on my desk at work. My birthday was wonderful, and I'm now basking in the continuing treatsy-ness of the weekend.

question: do you give gifts to yourself?

mompoet - life is delicious

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I am at the produce store. Earlier, I have emptied and organized the veggie bins in my fridge. I realise that I have brought with me an old hand of ginger that was in my fridge. It's a bit puckery, but still good for cooking. It's awkward to carry it at the produce store, because I'm afraid someone will think I'm shoplifting it. Then I see a sign on the wall, "This rack for produce you have brought from home." I put my wrinkly ginger in a plastic bag, stow it on the rack, and resume my shopping.

question: ginger?

mompoet - puckery

Friday, November 23, 2007

sweet potato

Dooce linked this livejournal post. It's good if you like dogs, or sweet potatoes, and maybe even if you aren't interested in either. Check it out.

question: what's that sound?

mompoet - co-habiting with omnivores of various species

Thursday, November 22, 2007

chilly morning haiku

frost, soft on green moss
tempts bare-toed shock-bite firewalk
come gently, winter

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

if you are bored at work

spellcheck your co-workers names then substitute their spellchecked names for their real names in you Outlook contacts.

spellcheck if my favourite joke

blogger spellcheck corrects "poo" to "pew" "polo" "pogo" "poor" or "pool." My choice.



Driving home from the photo booth last night I spotted some strange debris on the road. I remember thinking, "it can't be." Well, it was. When we got out of the car, Alex complained long and loud, then ran into the house. It smelled really awful. But it was dark and I thought, "it couldn't be." Well, it was.

In the morning, dressed for work and in a bit of a hurry, I went out to my car..."OH CRAP!" (literally). It was awful. In the light of day I saw it. My nearly new left front snowtire (you know, the one beside the driver's door) flush-deep in dog poo. Worse, the poo was kicked up all inside the wheel well. It seemed to be evenly distributed all around, in amazing quantity. That was a big dog, and I must have made a direct hit (of the poo, I mean. I did not hit any dogs in this story).

This was worse than stepping in it in Vibram-soled hiking boots. This was a full-on embedded poo experience.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, I do have a garden hose, but I was dressed for work (heels, nice jeans, velvet jacket, earrings) and had little time to spare. I just didn't want to risk splashback and the resulting delay. I drove the stinkmobile to work, parked at the far back corner of the lot, and resolved to spend my lunch hour driving to the carwash.

Only the course I was in all morning went long and I had to run to my next meeting. Now the stinkmobile was parked outside the mall. I'm helping with an event there this weekend and I had to check in on a couple of details. Poo-bus sat in the underground parking, for the first time in NO danger of being stolen.

After the meeting I picked up some oranges and broccoli at the produce store inside the mall then hopped in the car and drove to the carwash. The carwash guy did not seem enthused when I told him of my plight. But he didn't send me away so in I went. It's one of those auto-washed with big fleece arms, like a giant wet soapy Muppet washing your car. When I got out I hopped out and looked. $7.24 for 85% poo removal. I saw the sign guaranteeing a perfect clean or we'll gladly re-wash, but I decided not to push my luck. I hope they flushed the place out before they let the next guy in after me. Worse, it still smelled bad.

I drove to work (I work at an ice arena) and pulled my car into the Zamboni bay. Bill, who drives the Zamboni and otherwise takes care of things physical and mechanical in the building, hauled out this big hot water hose and sprayed the tire and wheel well. The hose was a bit short, and I didn't want him to have to move the Zamboni out, so I repositioned the car a couple of times. After 10 minutes of good-natured blasting, we had 97% of the poo removed.

But it's like with shoes. You need to get rid of 101.5% or you can still smell it.

The weather report says sunny all week. Nertz.

question: did you ever have something you were trying to get rid of, but you couldn't?

mompoet - p.u.

the photo booth

Alex got his grad portraits done last night. I went with him to the high school, where the photography company had a big truck trailer parked on site - like a construction site breakroom or first aid trailer. Inside, it was outfitted for picture-taking. There's a small waiting area and change room, and two studio spaces with cameras and backdrops.

Alex and I were both a bit nervous. He does not dress formally very often, so we had purchased his first white dress shirt ever for the cap and gown photo. We had decided against a suit. He's going to rent a tux for the dinner dance, and his work and church never require a suit. There will be a time for that. He could probably use a jacket of some kind that would go with his dress pants that we bought for the Senior Sail formal earlier this fall. We'll see - there's a time for everything.

It turned out that most of the students we saw coming and going were equally nervous and variously-dressed. About half were there with a parent or adult friend. The others came on their own. I'm glad I accompanied Alex. He seemed to like having me there. I helped him make sure his shirt was tucked in right and tie straightened (he wore a different shirt and tie for the casual poses so he had to change). I stayed out of the way and out of sight while the photgraphers did their work. We don't plan to buy a whole bunch of photos. I bet they will be nice, but also expensive. We'll get cap and gown shots for us and Alex's grandparents, and see about some copies for godparents and others who will recognize his graduation.

The whole experience (including waiting for a while because we nervously arrived early) took about 1 hour. It wasn't as scary as we thought. Alex looked awesome. So did the other grads who were there. They are all simultaneously younger and older than we expect them to be. I'm glad that I was there.

question: did you ever see someone in a different light because you were in a new situation together?

mompoet - always looking

Monday, November 19, 2007

I think it's going to snow tonight

I have four snow tires on my car. I carry boots in my trunk. Today, on a day off from work, Andy and I went out for lunch near my office, then I asked him to please stop at my office for a few minutes. There were a few things that I needed to put in order in case I am delayed or prevented from getting to work in the morning by snow.

He is still laughing. He says I am paranoid.

At the office, they did not laugh at me (coming in on my day off). They just smiled and said, "It's not going to snow tomorrow."

I think they are wrong.

I am not afraid of the snow. I have 4 snow tires. I have driven in the snow lots of times, and the bus service is pretty good, and I have more than one pair of good boots. But I see no need to join in the mayhem, especially on "snow day number 1" when half of the people aren't ready, and everyone is in a panic. The roads get jammed. The buses get bogged. It's just no fun. If I could walk to work, I would, but driving down to the bottom of the last hill to be plowed in this town every year, then lining up with the slipsters and slushgrinders is a big waste of time, frustrating and sometimes dangerous.

So when it snows I stay put unless I really need to drive. Like last year, on my birthday, after an all day field trip with Grade 10 and 11 students to Bodyworlds on a school bus, just when I though I was going to have a lovely Thai supper at my mom's it snowed and snowed and snowed. I didn't drive for the supper. That could easily be postponed. I drove over the inlet to West Vancouver - the snow kingdom of the Vancouver area - to get Fi to a rehearsal. It was snowing so hard I decided to stay put. Sure enough the school where the rehearsal was held got closed an hour early and the night janitors were sent home. Driving home we saw people driving frontwards, backwards, sideways and almost upside-down. I was nervous but sure-footed with my four snowtires. It was kind of exhilarating (then exhausting) adventure at the end of a long and somewhat disappointing day. The point is, I had to drive in the snow, so I drove.

Tomorrow, I have it set up so I do not need to drive in the snow. If I am paranoid, that's okay. Maybe it will be a beautiful day. It's just feeling like snow right now, and I like to be ready.

question: how to you deal with "the snow?"

mompoet - respectfully relating to congealed precipitation

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Things are turning right-side-up again

Life is still speeding by faster than I can perceive, but I seem to have found a safe and steady current and righted my boat, so the view is less overwhelming and the deliciousness is returning.

I was talking to a friend on the phone last weekend (canceling a meeting I had agreed to, and arranging to have the conversation by phone). I told her I was doing this because I was feeling overwhelmed. I needed to get smaller, quieter, closer, until I could feel more steady and confident again. She said that she understood, that it was a relief to know that others feel this way too sometimes.

I wonder why we spend our lives trying to look "just fine," even when we aren't always "just fine." I know if we all walked around moaning and groaning about every worry and irritation we'd be bogged in misery. Still, it is a good and friendly thing to admit it when we are feeling like we can't cope. Ask for help or sympathy or a reprieve from overwhelming commitments and we will be met with compassion and a feeling of fellowship.

In my neighbourhood, it is considered a compliment to invite a friend into your house when your house is a mess. By doing so, you say, "You are my friend. I trust you. You can see my mess and still be my friend just the same." It would be good if we could get better at revealing our messes of the psyche and soul sometimes. It would lower the bar for personal perfection and on-top-of-it-ness among friends. That would be good. We would all be allowed to be a little less secure, and we could take turns leading and nurturing. I would like that.

question: do you suppress your yelps of anguish? or let them out?

mompoet - practising the yelp with friends who I trust

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I am going to bed now

and in the morning I will read the newspaper


as in look at words and think about what they mean, for fun. yup

good night

some thing funny

We just had a pub night fundraiser for Alex's Aftergrad. We're raising funds for an alcohol and drug-free all-night party at the school after the formal dinner-dance in May.

We sold 91 tickets and raised a little over $1,000 after expenses. We'll do two more pub nights between now and Aftergrad.

I was in charge of organizing the 50-50 raffle. We did things by the books: got a license, read and followed all of the gaming regulations. Along the way I found out that there are three things that it is illegal to raffle in British Columbia:

1. alcohol
2. live animals
3. restricted firearms

Now, you may have a bottle of booze as a prize in a "twonie toss" which is a game of skill, not a raffle as governed by the gaming regulations. So Andy and I got to thinking, could you also have a toss for those other forbidden raffle items? How about a twonie toss for a handgun? or for a live goat? I guess that would be legal, which is good, because we'll have to disassemble that "gun basket" that we had almost ready for the next pub night. We could have a combo-toss for a rifle, a duck and a bottle of wine. I bet we'd clean up (only it would be hard to get the duck to stand still, so we wouldn't know which twonie was closest).

question: did you ever think the law is funnier than most greeting cards?

mompoet - I bet bureaucrats just roll around in their offices laughing their heads off.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

egg in a hole for two

what I learned from a night of not talking

I dressed up as a mime the other day
an attention-getting move, considering
I was going to the poetry slam
mimes are reviled by slam poets because
they make more money than poets
and they don’t have anything to say

I concocted a costume like Marcel Marceau’s with bits from Value Village
bought a wig and a top hat
sewed on a red rose – ah, the fragility of life
applied white face paint and exaggerated lips, brows, eyeliner
and once I was done, I did not talk – not one bit
I can’t honestly say I was a mime – that takes years of having nothing to say
but I was dressed up as one

I expected to have some fun
and make a statement
and maybe get punched
well, not really, it is the poetry slam after all

What I didn’t expect was the experience
of becoming unrecognizable
at least to some of the people
invisible to others
irritating as hell to others still

Here’s what I learned from my night of dressing up as a mime at the poetry slam:

People don’t like it when you know them, but they don’t know you
but they pretend that it doesn’t bother them
I got more fake smiles and waves that night
it took me a while to figure out
people did not know it was me
but I could read their thoughts
“Who is that scary clown? What a freak!”
and feel their relief when I passed

I learned that
people admire you when you go out on a limb
the ones who knew it was me told me
that it was very cool that I really didn’t talk at all, all night
they said they liked my costume, my poster-card haiku
my effort to reconcile mimes and poets at a tribute slam
no matter who you are, it’s still what you do
that shapes the way that people think of you

I learned that
people say things to mimes that
they would not say to someone who might answer back
and that people say things near mimes that they wouldn’t risk having overheard
in regular circumstances
I learned secrets in my night of mimehood
that would not otherwise have been revealed

I learned that people do not like to struggle
to understand
maybe they’re tired of deaf people handing out those sign language cards
and asking for money
maybe they’re just creeped out by
the one-sided experience of talking with a non-verbal adult
it’s not one-sided, really
it’s just different
it could be fun
that, perhaps, was my only disappointment
nobody attempted to speak mime back to me

I learned that it is very hard
not to talk when you see people who you know
not to shout with delight
roar with outrage
heckle with impunity
clapping, beaming and handshake pumping only go so far
to express the thoughts that jump like beans behind a clenched-jaw smile

So I took photographs
finally, I felt a sense of place
in the stereotyped behaviour of the clinch and grin
my friends who did not know me
knew what was expected, and breathed out
pretty much everyone in the place posed for my camera
allowing me to capture them
in their own nonverbal moment of
and even though I lack the skills to convey it eloquently, without words
I knew in that moment what it was to be a mime
loved and welcomed
at a poetry slam

And that’s all for now because
I really don’t have anything

to say

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Weekly Poll about Temporary Shelters for Homeless People - Please Vote

The Tricity News' weekly poll asks readers if they support the plan for 5 area churches to take turns hosting a wet weather mat program, to provide dry sleeping places through the winter months.

Here's the question: Do you support a plan to set up temporary homeless shelters in a number of Tri-City churches?

Please vote here

Vote for HUNTER

One of Soleil's (and our) favourite dog friends has been nominated for "Cutest Dog." Please log onto the Province newspaper website and Vote for Hunter. The prize is a big gift certificate to a pet supply store. Voting carries on until noon Thursday.

Vote for Hunter

loaner baby

Bowen (about 18 months old) came over tonight while his mom was out and his dad took his big brother Tristan to swimming lessons. We had fun with him for a little more than half an hour. He can come over any time. We don't have any toys left in the house, but we do have some picture books, so we sat on the couch and read. Bowen also composed some abstract poetry in large colourful fonts on the computer (thanks Fi) and talked in a loud, insistent voice to the dog but avoided kisses (thanks Soleil). Toward the end of the visit he played with potatoes.

When I was a daycare-giver in my home, I offered the potatoes to the baby whenever I had to do something in the kitchen, like make lunch or load the dishwasher. Babies like to take the big plastic bin of potatoes and take the potatoes out, put the potatoes in. They like to put potatoes into measuring cups and baking pans. They like to arrange potatoes in muffin pans. Bowen had fun with potatoes. He tried to feed them to Soleil, so I had to watch out. Thank you Soleil for giving me back all of the potatoes. I know you would be willing to eat them.

When Tristan (4 yrs) came to pick up Bowen he told me that Bowen likes me. He also told me that he is not my neighbour. Only his mom and dad are his neighbours. I told him I like him, even so. Tristan let me carry him home, even though he is TOO BIG!

It's nice to borrow a baby or a little boy once in a while. I am glad we are a house full of teenagers and adults, but once in a while it's nice.

Soleil (49 in dog years) was somewhat relieved when that baby went home. I think she was afraid we were going to keep him.

question: what do you offer a baby when he comes to visit your house?

mompoet - remembering

oh darn

my statcounter just passed 3333 and I missed it.

mompoet - waiting now for 4444

did you notice

I went for a whole, long, quiet day Monday (a holiday from work) at home without reading, tv or radio, and no whining? I didn't do anything spectacular. Mostly puttered, cooked, organized a cupboard or too, talked to my family, walked the dog. In the evening I went out to a meeting but all day long I was with myself without wanting to bolt or zone out with reading. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, I did want to read, but not desperately so. I went online and learned how to post announcements to the Vancouver Poetry House website, and how to update the Volunteer page, for which I am responsible. So I read a bit doing that, but it was okay.

Two more days after today. I can manage it. The weekend was the dark forest of long stretches and I walked through the woods with myself for company, at peace with my own thoughts.

Tonight I came home early from work and crafted an awesome lettuce wrap supper. This recipe requires lots of fine mincing and coordinating times that food is hot and ready to serve. I even deep-fried vermicelli noodles for an authentic presentation. It was good. And I know the recipe by heart, so I didn't even have to read it.

question: what do you like to do when you have time to putter?

mompoet - puttering is the imagination in freefall mode

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Andy and I saw Into the Wild tonight. I thought it was pretty good, although I think it tried a bit too hard to answer the questions that everyone must ask about a story like this. I would have been comfortable with the movie just telling it and letting us do a little more of the figuring. But that's Hollywood.

I read the book by Jon Krakauer when it first came out. I have only a partial recollection of it, but I remember that there were gaps in the story, and that the book left a lot of questions unanswered. At the time, I found that frustrating, but in retrospect, it's more honest than making it up to give the movie a more satisfying story arc. Then again, maybe Sean Penn (who wrote the screenplay and directed the movie) did some additional research. The credits included thanks to Krakauer and to the family of Christopher McCandless, the young man whose story is told in the movie.

Still in all, it's an engrossing tale of a very strong individual on a quest for meaning. It's visually stunning, with a good sense of humour and tender characterization. The sound track is very nice too. It is a bit too long (about 2 and a quarter hours I think). I recommend it. I don't know if the critics do. I'm not allowed to read reviews at the moment. Whether or not you've read the book, it's a good movie to see.

question: did you ever go on a quest for meaning?

mompoet - loving the movies


Today is Remembrance Day, and also Sunday. I stayed in church and so missed the ceremony at the cenotaph. The Legion is about a block from the church, so we heard the fly-by of jets that signaled 11am, and the sounding of the cannons that marked the end of the moment of silence. Our church service recognized Remembrance Day very well, so I'm glad I stayed.

A young man in our congregation, Greg, sang "The Green Fields of France." His song made me think about the play I saw last weekend, The Wars at the Playhouse. Then it made me think of Afghanistan, then I was crying, and I looked around and so was mostly everyone else. Then Greg choked and cried and had to take a few breaths, then he finished the song. Then Svend, a WW2 Navy veteran from our congregation spoke about The Memory Project. He told us about the sinking of the Canadian warship Valleyfield in the North Atlantic in 1944. We prayed about memory and peace and "us" and "them," and how it's really all "us" everywhere. It was a good service.

I spent extra time after the service checking in with young and old friends over coffee. I left feeling that the well had been filled again. It's funny, when I skip church, I think it's going to be some luxurious thing and I'll have extra precious time for an activity or the family. In reality, I miss it significantly when I do not attend, even for one week. Worship in community helps me renew my courage and optimism. Somehow after spending the morning in church I find more time and energy for everything else. It's a wonderful thing.

At home this afternoon without TV or newspapers I met by phone with a friend to plan a meeting for tomorrow evening. I edited some poems, sent a few emails and made salad rolls for lunch and a warm supper for the family. It was dark, damp and grey outside, fitting for a day to remember those who fought in wars to protect us, and to think about peace. Bundled indoors in a sweater, it seemed right to look out, think ahead, be aware and be sure. And I'm sure that only in community ( a really big one too ) can we find the courage and power for lasting peace everywhere.

question: how did you remember today?

mompoet - remembering

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday without reading is ridiculous

I always read Saturday. If I have time I read the weekend newspaper. If I don't, at least I read a magazine and always a chapter or two of whatever book I'm in. Whatever chores or commitments I have for the day, reading is the breath that I take in between. And when I'm driving or cleaning it's radio or tv just to have something to listen to while I do what I have to do. Today has been very quiet.

Andy and I dropped Fi off at the Arts Centre early, went out for breakfast and did some shopping. That part was easy. We talked, and there was lots to see and do. We got home in time for late lunch. Then I began some housecleaning, in the quiet. In between tasks I checked email (I'm allowing myself email). Please, someone email me! I found myself hungrily reading the headline on the newspaper that I tidied away, and the captions on the cover of the magazine that still sat near my place at the table. This is really weird.

I wish I could say I got more cleaning done, as a result of not being diverted by reading opportunities, but I can't. I did get done what I needed to do. Just the floors left to sweep then I'll dress for tonight. We're going out with friends and will be home late enough that I'll only miss reading a few chapters at bedtime. And I got such delicious books from the library this week.

hunger, hunger, hunger

question: what would you like to read?

mompoet - thought-sounds clanging

dreaming from a fixed perspective

I am sitting on the floor in front of a glass window. I am trying to see the view, which is partially obscured by a spray-snow Christmas stencil of a sleigh and reindeer. The view is the North Shore mountains, covered with fresh, real snow. I crane my neck and turn my head to see through the gaps in the stencil and past the smudges that distort what I can see.

There are other people in the room, co-workers I think, but also friends. They are exclaiming at the beauty. They have renamed Hollyburn, Black Mountain, The Lions all as one majestic mountain with a special name. We all say the name of the new mountain. I can't remember it now. It glows brighter than anything around it, a brilliant, clean white. When I look away it is burned into my visual field.

question: did you ever dream that you couldn't move, and were having trouble seeing something everyone else could see?

mompoet - fixed

Friday, November 09, 2007

one day down, six to go

This is not going to be easy. I like to read. I like chatter on the radio in the car. Thinking my own thoughts is quiet and noisy at the same time.

It occurred to me that the stress I have been feeling may be triggered by this Artist's Way process. Maybe I'm having a change of demeanour because my perception is changing. Julia Cameron warns of the "kriya" or cry of the soul. Perhaps that's just what this last week has been.

On Wednesday, my nephew Lukas in Cranbrook had an accident on his bicycle. He was riding home from school at lunchtime and something broke in the fork on the front. He pitched over the front of the bike and landed forehead first on the road. He was in the hospital Wednesday and Thursday night and had surgery for some skull fractures but he is okay. His eyes are okay. His teeth are okay. He is still Lukas. He is hurt and scared and sad and angry but he will be okay. We have been very scared too. Now that we know it's okay, the sad is allowed to come through. I wish I could go there now and hug him (but not hard, and not on the head).

Lukas was born the very same day that Fiona was born. He is her special twin cousin and very close to my heart. Especially now.

The doctor says he can return to school after the weekend, although he looks pretty banged up and can only eat soup and liquids for the moment. He's also not allowed to play sports for a while. Lukas is a soccer player and a hockey player and he can skateboard too. Right now his brain needs to be safe. My sister says that while she was at the hospital with him, the woman who stopped on the road to call for help told her that she covered Lukas with a blanket and lay beside him. He was unconscious for a few minutes, then woke up. The woman stayed with him and reassured him until help arrived and he was taken to the hospital. The police came to the school where she teaches grade one to tell her that he was at the hospital.

She says they are lucky, well not lucky, but lucky that things weren't worse. We are grateful for that.

question: what's important?

mompoet - wondering

no reading

This week I am doing the "no reading" week of The Artist's Way. In case you don't know about the Artist's Way, it's a 12 week program of recovering creativity, created by artist Julia Cameron. Each week there are readings and exercises and an artist's date. Daily, I write morning pages as prescribed by the program (3 pages longhand before I do anything else). I have been joined by a group of people from my office in a "creative cluster," which is simply a group of people doing the artist's way program together. We meet weekly (or a little less often) to discuss our experiences and share support and encouragement.

I was doing my weekly Artist's Way chapter reading this morning when I got to the part that said that this is the week in which you do no reading. By cutting out novels, newspapers, magazines (and also TV and other time-wasting input-guzzling) you free up your time (and awareness) for other experiences. The chapter predicts an increase in re-organizing and enhancement of the personal environment (closet-cleaning, buying a new throw pillow) followed by time for play. I'm interested to find out how this works for me. I know that I divert myself from being by myself with myself by being busy and by reading. I know I'll miss it, but I know it will be good.

So I will continue blogging, but I won't be reading anybody else's blogs. Please forgive this one-sided behaviour, my blogger friends. It's for a good cause.

I will not watch TV (don't do much of that anyway).

I will not listen to the radio just for the sake of chatter. If there's something good that I want to tune in to to really listen, I'll do that. In the car, CDs will be okay, as long as I choose the CD and don't just listen to what's in the player by default.

I will read email, but will instantly delete anything that is junk-joke or precious platitude stuff, and I won't follow links to articles or websites. Not this week.

Maybe I'll clean a closet or buy a new throw pillow. Maybe I'll skip straight to play. We'll see.

Question: do you ever try something to find out what it will be like?

mompoet - Given the choice, I prefer the thing I have not met before

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The finished product (see below for instructions)

Mom to Mime in Six Easy Steps

It took me about an hour and a quarter to transform myself from mompoet to Marcel Marceau for last week's Dead Poets' Slam. It took me about 10 days to get the pictures out of the camera, but thanks to mighty connector guy (aka my husband Andrew) we have all new high-speed USB connections so our gadgets will communicate more reliably with the mother ship of our computer.

Here goes...

0. I came home from work, had supper with the family, then got dressed. I had the costume all prepared: clothing mostly from Value Village with a bit of cutting and stitching to get it right; hat and wig from beloved Dressew; makeup from various sources. I asked Fi to take my photo for a baseline. Soleil got in the picture too, which is rare. She's afraid of cameras, and apparently also afraid of mimes. She disappeared pretty quickly.

1. After I loaded the dishwasher, I put on the clothing. Nice and stretchy. Like pajamas. mmmm

2. After that I ditched the glasses and squished the hair. I still have a couple of pairs of contact lenses in their sterilized jars. They came in handy this night. If you've never had a wig cap on before, you should try it. It really takes care of the hair (well, most of it).

3. Now the wig. I had to give it a haircut because is was even more shaggy than in the photo. There was fake black wig hair bits all over the place for a few days.

4. White face all over. Niiiiiice.

5. The lips, the eyes, the eyebrows. The white stuff I got was not nearly good enough to hide my bushy brown brows. Well, I could have shaved them off, but I decided not to.

6. The hat. Now I can't talk any more. zip.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

snap crackle plop

I'm still a mess of stress. I thought I was over it but nope, not, still frazzing. A neutral-intentioned comment from a co-worker yesterday sent me in a tizzy of self-righteous "she done me wrong" that's all straightened out today but whooaaah. For the first time in ages I DID NOT SLEEP AT NIGHT. Me, the one famous for 3-2-1-unconscious whenever I want to. I listened to my husband breathing for a few hours and did the pillow/blanket/flip-flop/shuffle until sometime past 2 in the morning. Ug.

Today was another matter. Things smoothed down considerably. It was Take Our Kids to Work Day, so Fi and her friend Kira came to work with me. I had some pretty boring moments, and a private hour with my Artists' Way group, so they spent some time working with an awesome preschool instructor and toured the Burnaby Art Gallery without me at the lunch hour. They sat through a Ministry of Children and Family Development presentation on child abuse prevention in my afternoon staff meeting, which made me feel proud. Then we started up a soccer program before I had to drop Fi to her rehearsal and take Kira home. After that I thought I was home free, but I got called back in to work for a minor emergency that didn't last long and was nicely resolved. Still, I know I am teetering.

I don't like to feel like I am not on top of my work.
I don't like to feel like I am doing less than a great job.
I don't like to miss deadlines.
I don't like that impatient and bitchy feeling I get when I start resenting someone calling or just sticking their head in my office door. That's not why I signed up for this.

I remind myself that there will always be times when I will feel overwhelmed. The time will pass, the feeling will fade. I'll be back on top of the horse.

Meantime, self-care: cancel what I can, do things I like to do, eat/sleep/love healthy and strong, get some exercise, be with people who nourish my soul, pray daily and go to church on Sunday. There it is.

All will be right, but right now, don't tip me - I splash sad/mad/illogic-globs. Watch out.

question: do you ever feel like not your best self? What do you do to recover your centre?

mompoet - lopsided, definitely

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Art, friends, family. They do it for me every time.

My uncurling from a state of tight-wound stress began on Friday at work. I went over to the office of a co-worker for a short check-in meeting over take-out lunch, and ended up staying for a couple of hours. We got a lot done, but I also remembered what I like about my job - the connections I have with such good people, and the supportive and encouraging environment that we have created. I had this huge pile of work on my desk back at my office, and an imaginary clock ticking with a bomb attached, but it didn't matter. I felt back in my groove. I knew everything would be okay.

Friday evening, after picking up Alex from Karate and driving Fiona to dance class, and sitting on the couch for a while with Andy to check in on plans for the birthday weekend, I went over to Cathy's house for a glass of wine with the ladies. Cathy's mom moved home to Prince Edward Island earlier this year. It was so good to see her and to reconnect with my mom-friends. September and October went by so fast we haven't spent much time together.

Saturday, Alex and I went to the fabric store to get the stuff for Fi's Wendy costume, then to Sylvia's for a haircut, then we picked up Mom and Dad and went for lunch. The Eritrean restaurant wasn't open by 12:30, so we had Pho instead a few door down. It was perfect for a cold, drizzly afternoon. Alex went home by skytrain, and Mom, Dad and I saw "The Wars" at the Playhouse. It was very, very good. The perfect thing at the perfect time. I liked the spare staging, clean and precise characterization and the overall tone and shape of the piece. The play was about a young Canadian soldier in the First World War. It portrayed his experiences and relationships with his family at home and the men with whom he went to war. It was strong on emotion without wallowing in sentimentality or horror. It just felt authentic and good. After the play, Mom and Dad dipped into Sikora's Classical Records while I made a quick trip down to post-Halloween Dressew. I found a few bits more for the Wendy costume.

Saturday night, Andy and I went out for supper to celebrate his birthday. We came home and watched "Blood Diamond" on DVD. Wow. By the time we finished and talked a bit about it, it was midnight. OH! It was only 11pm. I love "fall back."

This morning we are going slow. I skipped church to cuddle in and sleep late. The kids just went out in my car to buy Andy a birthday present. Andy and I will go out somewhere - maybe the Vancouver Flea Market as he has never been there and wants to see it. The phone has been ringing all morning with birthday wishes. Did I mention that he is 50 today? We won't have a big party (his request), but we will make a nice family supper and pick up a cheesecake (his favourite) and some candles.

Tomorrow I'll head back to work and I know everything will be okay. I have re-filled the well with the things that feed my spirit.

question: what feeds your spirit?

mompoet - blessed to be surrounded with that which smooths over and fills up

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007


That's Shane Koyczan, Mike McGee and Anis Mojgani - three of my all time favourite poets. Yes.
That's my poet hero The Svelte Ms Spelt dressed as Dead Hunter S Thompson, and me, dressed as Marcel Marceau.

I haven't posted since the beginning of the week, and here it is the end, so this post may ramble a bit, and it will contain:


1. A Confession
I have set up a facebook account. Lots of my friends are on facebook, and I kept getting those chippy little email invitations, so I signed up. It is intriguing and fun and you can waste a lot of time on it. I am determined not to ignore my blog in favour of facebook, because they are two different things. At the same time, I don't want to increase my time at the computer, so I guess I'll just have to learn to type faster.

2. Several Lengthy Descriptions
This is quite possibly the most stressful and delightful week I have had since early summer. Some of it I just can't tell about, but much of it is just business as usual in this full-up life of mine, but just a little too full these days. My workload at the office has gone off the charts. I feel like I am not keeping up adequately with anything, especially my non-favourite detaily-bits. I got a friendly reminder that I have not reconciled my personal cell phone expenditures for 12 months (it's supposed to be done monthly). Well, I have been keeping my phone bills clamped together with an attractive bulldog clip, so I am aware of them, but now I am compelled to do something about them. It's a horrible, boring, icky-picky job that takes about 15 minutes if you do it monthly. Tomorrow I will have 12 X 15 minutes worth of it uk. I am loving the parts about working with my lovely co-workers and the staff that I supervise. I am especially grateful that my counterparts are feeling similarly overwhelmed and are willing to share that feeling (it's better than being the only one in the place who can't keep up) but Oh my, please slow down. Somebody please give me a big hammer to smash my phone and a giant vacuum cleaner to suck up the stuff on my desk and my floor and falling off the stack on top of my filing cabinet. I'd like to start over. I'm sure I can do a better job next time.

Around the edges of work-wak, I am having some absolutely tip-top experiences. Monday was the Dead Poets' Slam at the Van Slam. I have posted a couple of pictures here so you have an idea. Everyone dresses up as a dead poet and performs the work of that poet. We sold the show out for the first time in several years, and the costumes and performances were stellar. Such a good night. I showed up as Marcel Marceau, which is a poetry slam in-joke. Mimes are mockingly reviled by slam poets because "Poets are the lowest paid artistic profession in the world. Mimes get paid more than poets, and they have NOTHING TO SAY." So when Marcel Marceau died this year, I felt sad, but I knew it was my opportunity to be him at the Dead Poets' Slam. I wore the makeup and a peculiar costume, and I did not speak all night. I think it was that last part that rendered me pretty much unrecognizable. It was a weird experience just keeping 100% mum for 3 hours, and even weirder seeing people and knowing that some of them did not know it was me. I have a series of photos showing how I put the costume together, but they are stuck in the other camera that is not talking to the computer right now. Eventually they will befriend each other again, and I'll post the pics. It's pretty cool, changing from a mom to a mime. The transformation took about an hour and a quarter.

Then on Tuesday we had Solomon Sparrow's Electric Whale Revival. Poetry House hosted this show. Five of the best performance poets in the world came to our town and did two back to back shows. Mike McGee, Buddy Wakefield, Anis Mojgani, Dan Leaman and Derrick Brown put on a show that defies description. It was the end of their three-month cross-America tour, in a van. The venue was The Cottage Bistro, a warm little cafe on Main Street South. We had about 100 people in the house for the first show. The vibe was just good, with everyone so open to the men on the stage and what they had to say and show and sing. It felt sometimes like we were one big body, breathing together. I found myself crying several times, and laughing my face off when I wasn't crying. It was just that good. I cried in the car on the way home too. I think I just had so much stuff to let go, and the show opened me up beautifully. It felt good.

Wednesday was Halloween. I took off work a bit early to come home and get ready. Usually we are so prepared for Halloween, but this year it didn't happen that way. I got the decorations out of the attic just the day before. I borrowed a staple gun (ours being temporarily misplaced) dug out the ladder, laid out the lights and skulls and carved a couple of pumpkins quickity quick. All the while I was feeling bad because I wasn't organized to get dressed up again (I like to dress up to greet the trick-or-treaters) and I had not baked (don't laugh, but I always have some cookies and squares to offer the moms and dads along with cups of hot coffee). I did manage to set up coffee but no cakes, and I was feeling pretty glum. I thought "I hope nobody says "where's the cookies?" because I'll either burst into tears or attack them with this borrowed staple gun. Luckily nobody said anything. It's funny how we set up expectations for ourselves, and when we allow ourselves off the hook, the world keeps turning. So anyway, Andy got home in time to do a spectacular lighting and spook-ifying of the carport with the stuff I'd dug up, while I drove Fi and her friend Shan to a Halloween party. I got home in time to make some grill cheeses and set up in the carport. We got almost 200 trick-or-treaters, and we sat out for an hour or so because it's more fun than going to the door. Our neighbours Sol and Wendy were out there too, with their new fog machine, so the whole double carport looked swampy and eerie. The little (and bigger) kids in their costumes were very entertaining. My favourite: 2 eleven-year-old girls with capes, tights and underpants on their heads, dressed as "Super Miyoko" and "Super Kaitlyn." I just love that kind of thing.

Today I went into the office obscenely early to try to stay on top but I just toppled off the heap and headed in for a full day at a Labour Relations course I've been taking on Thursdays. It was very good. The excellent news today was that my name was drawn to get a couple of hockey tickets in our employee group ticket draw. So Andy and Alex will get to see Colorado play the Canucks next Friday. Alex is over the moon. It's hard to get hockey tickets.

I came home in time to make a nice supper, then do an hour of work from the office and I'm starting to feel better about it. It's just work after all, and this too shall pass. I think I was a very grumpy bunny for the first hour I was in the house, but everyone pretended I was just my usual self until I calmed down and stopped acting mean and bossy and crabby.

So I think that's the detailed description. I hope you are still reading.

3. (What was 3? I have to scroll up... to remember)

1. Put a gorilla in a bowl
2. Stir the gorilla 15 times with your left hand, 14 times with your right hand
3. If the gorilla is still in the bowl, it's probably past its "best before" date. Do not eat it.
4. Go to the store and buy and banana loaf.
5. If you do not feel like going to the store, get 2 graham crackers and put a piece of banana and a marshmallow in between them. This is called "fast banana loaf." It's not very good, but you could feed some of it to the gorilla who won't know the difference.
6. Turn your stereo on and dance with the gorilla until you can't remember why you wanted a banana loaf anyway.

4. A link to a random something.

5. The end