Saturday, May 31, 2008


The past week or so has been so packed full it was "do stuff then sleep" relentlessly. Everything was good, just a lot of it packed into an extended period of time, with little chance to catch breath.

Today is loose.

We have a couple of plans for the weekend, all of the non-demanding variety. Pretty much everything is flexible, optional and easy-going. This is a welcome change.

In case you're wondering about the concluding days of omnibus everything-ing. Here are the updates:

  • I finished the term paper and wrote the exam for my BCIT course. I think I did just fine on both. Our teacher allowed us to write the closed-book exam in teams of 2 or 3, which took a lot of the stress away. We filled in each others' "blanks" and validated answers with each other. This makes sense for a workplace course. It's rare at work that you ever have to decide or do something totally solo, so a consultative test-taking approach is good.
  • Fiona performed beautifully in Provincials. It was a thrill to see her participating at this level. The atmosphere was surprisingly uncompetitive. Performers came from local festivals all over the province. It was good to see what they were doing. Fi says she's glad she got to do it, and she had fun.
  • Alex took Monday off school to rest up after grad weekend, then returned to school. Now he has some final exams to prepare for. His commencement ceremony will take place on June 14.
  • I missed 2 days at the office with Provincials, so I ended up working a marathon 13 hours on Thursday to meet a hard deadline for an upcoming publication. I made it. I'm not rock solid on my accuracy, but the work is complete. I don't like to work that way, but sometimes, something's gotta give. Good husband rescued me from work at 9:30 pm or I might have slept at the office.
  • Alex and I shared the car on Friday night. I dropped him at work, then went to Michele's place to celebrate Kathy's birthday. We had a lovely shared-cooking supper on Michele's deck beside the big honeysuckle bush. Michele showed us her new jewelery-making workshop and gave us both handmade earrings, and Kathy a beautiful bracelet for her birthday. Getting together with my friends was a good beginning to a wind-down weekend.
  • I picked Alex up from work at 11, but he had to stay until 11:30 to help catch up with the cleanup of the theatre. It looked like a tornado hit the lobby. Alex told me it's not usually like that at the end of the evening, but a ton of people came to see the Sex and the City movie. It was fun watching him work. I took him by Tim Horton's for a doughnut and an ice cap on the way home. He was surprised that I did not want a doughnut and an ice cap at 11:45 at night.
question: do you remember being 18?

mompoet - grateful for a loose few days ahead

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

he needs me

Watch this video.

question: he does, doesn't he?

mompoet - da-da-da-da

Monday, May 26, 2008

rent a suit

You've seen the photos of Alex all dressed up for grad. If you remember back to March, you saw him the day that he chose the suit at the suit rental place. We were tremendously impressed with the ease, value and service of renting rather than buying. We reckon he will never again need a suit this formal in this size. He's still growing, and next time he needs something like it, he'll be in a wedding party and the bridge and groom will choose the suit. Instead of paying $400-500 for something he'll use just one time, we paid just over $150 for everything, including the shoes, socks and shirt.

All of this got me thinking about what else we really don't need to own, but can rent when we need it. I suppose at some point we will cease to need two cars and it will make sense to keep one or maybe even none, and rent when we need one. This Hyundai Accent would suit me fine. Just a note, any company that lists "armrests" as an extra amenity in a car is demonstrating acute attention to detail and a level of optimism and good cheer that just makes me smile (and tea squirt out my nose - yeah, that kind of smile). Of course, if my husband was renting a car, I think we'd have to look at this.

What about other rentables? I know you can rent tools, tents, trumpets, serving dishes (tip number 1 - know your chafing dishes!), horses, bikes and skis, boats, airplanes, furniture, caskets, and llamas.

Some things I cannot find for rent but would like to rent include:
-a waffle iron (I have one already, but for a really big breakfast I would rent another one - especially if it was a specialty waffle iron like a Mickey Mouse waffle iron)
-a built-in swimming pool
-a tattoo
-a contrary attitude and devil-may-care approach to life (what? that wasn't me, it was a rental)
-a sense of style
-a lilac bush
-a cake
-a renewed sense of wonder
-toenail polish
-a hamster
-an inside-out-grill cheese sandwich
-an antique to take to the antiques roadshow for appraisal then say "HAW HAW! I just rented it!"
-a googolplex piece jigsaw puzzle (just try to count the pieces to see if I get my deposit back)
-a new birthday
-elbow connectors (as opposed to protectors)
-a macaroni sorter
-a small country

Alas, these things are not for rent. But if they were, I would seriously consider renting them, especially because, like Alex's grad suit, they are things I would use only once, if that. It would be ever so much smarter than purchasing.

question: what do you rent?

mompoet - going to sort my macaroni by hand

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Here are some photos from last night's grad party. Alex had his formal dinner and dance at a downtown hotel. There are about 350 students in his graduating class. It was a big, fancy party. We drove him down to rendezvous with his friends, so we got to see the crowds of elegant looking 17 and 18 year olds going into the ballroom. After the dinner Alex got a limo ride back to the school. All of the students changed into casual clothing to party the rest of the night away at an "aftergrad" party organized by the parents. There was karaoke, velcro wall, video games, temporary tattoos, a fortune teller, a magician, an obstacle course, jousting, and tons of food and prizes. I served slushies until 2:30 am, then came home to sleep. The party went on until 5am, and almost all of the students stayed. Now we are awake again, all bleary-eyed and happy. It was a great grad. Exams are in 2 weeks. Commencement ceremony is in mid-June. What a year this has been for Alex!

Friday, May 23, 2008

group lodging

I'm on the ESS (Emergency Social Services) team at work. We're the city workers who are pledged to show up if there's an emergency that has people requiring support. It could be 2 people put out of their apartment by a fire (in which case 1 or 2 people get deployed to help them find a hotel room, clothing etc) or 500 people put out of their homes by a gas leak for an indefinite period or half the city if/when the big earthquake comes. We're supposed to ensure first that our own families are taken care of, then come and help.

There are a bunch of training courses that we take over the months and years so we have some idea of what to do when the need arises. Additionally, our public buildings are already designated and equipped to activate.

Yesterday I spent the day doing "Group Lodging." That's what we do if there's a disaster big enough that we can't find hotel rooms for all of the people who can't go back into their homes. Basically it's how to turn a rec centre into a dormitory and provide beds, sanitation, food and minimal comfort for lots and lots of people. It was an interesting course - very practical. I'm finally getting the feel for the "chain of command" thing and how it's organized. There's a huge list of acronyms (ESS is just one of them) for the different roles, organizational units and programs, which I dislike intensely because it makes things more mysterious. Luckily our teacher spoke in whole words and was very down to earth and friendly and funny. The day went by quickly. So now I know that we need 1 toilet for every 20 people, and a minimum 8 feet by 5 feet for a cot or mat. We focussed a lot on making a makeshift home as comfortable, dignified and homey as possible. The idea is to have people housed for a maximum of 72 hours this way. By that time they should be able to go home, or find someone to stay with. But we recognize that in a giant disaster this limit would be extended.

The last part of the course was questions for unusual situations. We discussed a bunch of "what would you do if..." scenarios. I got the one where 2 people are noticed to be having sex in a cot in the middle of the big room of cots. I got the right answer about how to approach and handle this situation, and someone said, "Yup, ask a woman to handle that one."

I hope I never have to work at group lodging, but if I do, now I'll know what to do. And if a couple of people decide to reassure themselves that life goes on in the most obvious and basic way, I suspect I'll be the one sent in to deal with it. That's what city workers do.

question: did you ever get nominated to a job that you wouldn't choose yourself?

mompoet - ready to help if needed

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

study break

I have been studying diligently for 2 hours. The edge of my hand is blue because I print upside down and drag through the ink. My eyes are all un-focusable past 2 feet. It's time for a commercial:

There. Laughing feels good. Now I can go back to studying.

question: did you think that was funny

mompoet - re-oxygenated

convergence of everything

The next few days are event-full for our family. Thursday afternoon, Fiona returns from 5 nights away in Kelowna where she has been performing in Peter Pan. Alex's Grad Dinner Dance and Aftergrad are Saturday into Sunday. I'll help decorate the school up for Aftergrad (a party at the school from 11pm to 5am after the formal dinner which is held at a downtown hotel) on Friday, then come back Saturday from 10:30pm-2am to help with food prep and service at Aftergrad. Alex will pick up his suit tomorrow (or maybe leave it, if it needs any last-minute alterations). On Saturday it's also the neighbourhood garage sale (250 houses full of stuff poured out onto the street for sale) and block party. We won't be selling this year but our friend Neana will come and I look forward to sitting a spell with her while she sells. She's a retired teacher who acts and does print ads and stuff for extra income. In between, she travels around so she always has interesting stories, and sometimes I update her resume, which lives in my computer. We won't see too much of the block party, what with Grad goings on, but we hope to make an appearance. On Sunday, Fi signs in to Performing Arts BC Provincials, then she's back on Monday and Tuesday to compete in the Musical Theatre and Vocal Variety junior categories. This is her first time to Provincials, which is a huge honour. She's representing the Coquitlam District Music Festival. I'll take Monday and Tuesday off work to attend. Tuesday afternoon is the final exam for my course, so if Fi's competition is over in time, I'll scoot over to City Hall and take the exam after lunch. If not, I'll take it Wednesday at the HR Dept. Our teacher is very good, and totally understands about family stuff. Then there's a term paper due Friday. So in between all of this stuff I have lots of studying to do, and term paper writing. That part is a bit of a shock, but I'm telling myself to just get over it and do the work.

So now I must stop blog-crastinating and plunge into homework. More tonight, less tomorrow when Fi's home.

question: Watcha got going on?

mompoet - hoping it all fits

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Dolphin Lives!

The Dolphin Theatre in North Burnaby has been closed for about a year. There was a fire in the theatre then it closed and it looked like that was it. No more Dolphin. Ex-theatre vacant across the street from ex-McDonald's restaurant. I thought, "Oh no, more condominiums for sure." But yesterday I drove past it. The boards were down off the lobby windows and there was a new sign on the marquee: GRAND RE-OPENING THIS WEEK - INDIANA JONES

This makes me incredible goofy with happiness. The Dolphin is the theatre of my Saturday matinees. My sister, brother and I, and assorted neighbourhood friends, would take the bus to the Dolphin on Saturday afternoons when we were 9, 10, 11 years old, to watch old movies for 50cents a show.

Saturday would start like this. Wake up. Phone the Dolphin Theatre. There was a recorded message. "This week at the Dolphin Theatre: The French Connection at 7 and 9pm nightly. Saturday Matinee at 1 o'clock is Girls and Coconuts, starring Lulu Lafou and Crock Huntson."
It didn't really matter what was showing. We were going to the movies.

Sometimes we'd eat cheap hamburgers and fries at the old McDonald's then go to the movie. Usually we just brought a dollar the theatre: 50 cents for the movie and 50 cents for a Mackintosh's creamy toffee and a small pop. We whacked the toffee on the seat in front of us (so much the better if some kid was sitting there and you made him jump). After the toffee was gone, we used the boxes for whistles. This was especially useful if there were kissing scenes in the movie. Smooch-smooch-smooch-Tweeeee-squeeee-hoooooT! If we got tired of that we could squirt coke out of our straws or throw ice cubes across the theatre at other kids. We had to be careful not to get kicked out when we did that. Whistling was safer.

Besides crappy old Doris Day movies and some Robin Hoods and King Arthur movies, we saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Dolphin Theatre. There was a lineup around the block for that one. Also there was an animated Flintstones movie, I think.

As an adult, I went to the Dolphin once or twice, but I didn't live in North Burnaby any more, so it was out of the way. It was my theatre of choice when the kids were little, though. It was inexpensive, and usually had a family friendly film showing any time. By that time, they had divided the auditorium into two smaller theatres. I still expected to see half a big screen running right up to the dividing wall whenever I went in there, but they did a better job than that.

Now my family is speculating. What will the Dolphin look like after the fire? Did they get digital sound? better seats? I'd settle for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a Mackintosh Toffee. Just don't anybody squirt coke at me with their straw.

question: do you think the Dolphin will go on?

mompoet - surely hoping so

Monday, May 19, 2008

just one question

How can one small cat, who eats 1/2 cup of dry food (carefully measured) per day and drinks only from her small dish (except for the odd sip from the dog's bowl) and does not eat any of the dog's food because the dog inhales it, and who never goes outdoors MAKE SO MUCH POO AND PEE IN ONE SHORT WEEK?

question: that's all for now

mompoet - cat box is clean until next week, going to change every garment I am wearing

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I am not sure what this sign is telling me to do

If I am riding a bike, I may choose the path to the right or to the left. If I am walking, am I supposed to walk into the pole?

blank slate and a bucket full of chalk

It's the Victoria Day weekend. We have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. There's lots to do, but no set schedule.

We began the weekend in our chairs out on the road with our neighbours, enjoying a drink and each others' company. All of our kids are older now. It wasn't long ago that we used to watch them play hockey and ride their bikes while we visited. Now they are all driving off in their cars to spend time with friends, while we sit at home.

Today, Andy went for a haircut then headed for the beach. I drove Fi to rehearsal then got my snow tires off, then ran some errands for her. I know that it has not snowed since February (well maybe March) but I wanted to be sure I would not be driving through the mountains. Now I am sure, so I can dispense with them. All 4 of them. I am cautious, yes. The errands went quickly. Nobody's hanging out at the mall or the dance shop because it's a perfect late spring day.

Fiona will go to Kelowna later today and stay for a few days with her theatre group. They will perform Peter Pan while they are there, and come home on Thursday. It's another chance for them to sing and dance and fly, and an exciting road trip. Neither Andy nor I will go this time, so she'll stay with a friend and her mom. I'll go down to her rehearsal soon, to bring her luggage and see her off. Then I'll have a nice long walk home, because Alex will have taken off in the car to go to work. It's a glorious summer day outside so I'll take my sunglasses and my camera.

Alex worked last night, and will work again tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Today I took him out for a sushi lunch to celebrate his college acceptance. He is feeling on top of the world - 18th birthday, new job, graduation, going to college. It's a very good time for him. Grad dinner dance is next Saturday, so he'll pick up his suit some time this week.

Mom and Dad got home from their Alberta/Cranbrook trip last night so I'll treat Mom to a belated Mother's Day lunch on Sunday after church. If the weather holds, we go to Rocky Point Park and enjoy Pajo's fish and chips outdoors. Mom's able to walk a ways out of doors now as she recovers from hip surgery in December, so this will be a treat for all of us. I know Mom will read this blog, so I'll tease her here and remind her of how I used to trick her into walking "one more block" which ended up being miles and miles and miles. I promise I will not do this tomorrow, Mom.

Depending on when Andy gets back from the beach tonight, we may go out, or just stay in and veg with a movie. I have a bunch of studying to do for my final exam for the course I'm taking, so I'll get to some of that this weekend some time too. I suppose at some point I must also clean the house. hmmm perhaps.

Monday night, I'll go to the Anarchy Slam at the Vancouver Poetry Slam. It's a "no rules" poetry slam that promises to be weird and wonderful.

Aside from that, the weekend is wide open. It will surely fill up with fun as well as time for relaxation. We have the luxury of making it up as we go along. I like that.

question: do you ever find lack of structure luxurious?

mompoet - relatively directionless and spinning happily

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

too close for comfort

My Mom and Dad are visiting my sister and her family in Cranbrook. Today a helicopter crashed on a residential street there, killing all three people on board and a pedestrian on the street. Here's the story.

The crash was just a few blocks from my sister's house. What a horrible thing. I phoned to make sure everyone was okay. Barb, Kim and the kids were at school when the crash occurred, but Dad goes out walking while he's there. Barb reassured me that helicopter did not fall on my father today. I was relieved, but also sad to know that four people died.

question: how did it happen, I wonder?

mompoet - a bit shaky

he's going to college

Alex just received an acceptance letter from Capilano College Film Production Program. He is over the moon. This was his first choice for post-secondary and he's in.

Coincidentally, in today's paper, this announcement about some of this year's grads getting internships with Brightlight Pictures.

We can't wait to see what happens for Alex. We're delighted that the path is opening up as he has envisioned it.

question: have you ever watched a rising star?

mompoet - catching a glimpse of a bright future.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

mother's day haikus

all the days of the
year - the cat picks this one to
pee on my duvet

the e-card shouting
made me squeal with laughter and
shout and laugh again

mysterious cake
of the sinking blueberries
was plum delicious

son, you can take me
to the movies anytime
I'll buy the popcorn

the new bathroom tiles
make the walls look hideous
next weekend, we paint

my mom's on the road
she's somewhere near Drumheller
we email greetings

the dog thinks I'm Mom
she did not pee on the rug
nor on the duvet

question: how many syllables in your Mother's Day?

mompoet - many many, all good (except for the duvet)

good bag

My friend Myrna is really smart about things that work, and make life a bit sweeter. She gave each of us ladies one of these bags a few years ago. It's from the Ontario Liquor Board, and meant for carrying up to 4 bottles home from the store, or out with you. I find that the pockets are good for more than bottles. Here it is, loaded up for a visit to Myrna's place for Friday evening chips and dips and wine (and tulips).

It's mother's day

Tom and Andrew were going to retile the downstairs bathroom last weekend, but Tom was not feeling well, so they're doing it today. Best place for me is out of the house and away from it.

Fiona made me a bagel for breakfast (my request) and Alex will take me to the movies (his idea) for Mother's Day. They'll both be out by supper time - Fiona at the play she's helping with, and Alex at work.

My mom is out of town leading a fiber arts workshop somewhere in Alberta. We'll celebrate Mother's Day for her when she returns. I mailed her card to Cranbrook, where she'll visit my sister and her family this coming week, before returning home.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are moms.

question: if you could request any breakfast, what breakfast would you request?

mompoet - I like bagels

Alex is 18

Here's our son, now grown. He is happy to be 18. We are very proud of him. He will graduate from high school next month, and hopes to begin in a film production program at a university nearby. He'll live at home a while yet. Seems like yesterday he was born.

some spring

The cherry trees on our street are looking much better. Last year they were plagued by tiny caterpillars that swung from threads and got stuck in your hair when you walked past. Pesticides are illegal in our city, but the tree guys came by with something organic that would make them "do better next year," and it worked. I hope this means they will leaf up beautifully too. It will be nice to have our happy trees back. The fluffy cherry blossoms that come at the end of blossom season always remind me of the day Alex was born. I looked out of the hospital corridor windows at them for several hours while I paced, trying to accelerate labour. That worked too, come to think of it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

listen to your mom

Our son, who loves film and hopes to study it and pursue a career in film-making, still needs the occasional nudge to go see this movie or that movie. Of course he's up on the blockbusters, especially now that he's working at the movie-plex, but there are so many other good movies. There are some that we agree on and have seen together: Superbad, Juno, Fahrenheit 911, Sicko. I had to convince him to see Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine before they caught on with big audiences and were all the buzz with teen moviegoers. Today I got him to go see Young @ Heart with me. Of course he loved it.

Young @ Heart is a documentary about a chorus of elder citizens who sing rock and roll songs. The film follows the rehearsal period leading up to the start of a tour. The singers, with their band and musical director, work to learn new songs and develop arrangements and interpretations that fit just right. Interspersed through the film are hilarious music videos made by the chorus (imagine The Ramones "I Want to Be Sedated" dramatized by seniors in pajamas in a care home). There are emotional moments too, when members struggle with ill health, and when the group performs for a group of prisoners in a local jail. The story is told with real affection and respect for its subjects. There's frank talk of the same subjects that interest us at any age: life, death, sex, money, art, friendship, love. All in all, it's a beautiful movie. Alex shouted with laughter, and got concerned when I cried. After the movie, I told him that I hope he will make films like the one that we just watched - original, funny, revealing and full of heart. He said, "Okay Mom."

You may want to take your mom or dad to see it. I recommend that you also insist on taking a young person. They'll be able to watch Ironman or Forgetting Sara Marshall anytime. Movies like this one don't come around every day.

question: what do you do with the teens in your life?

mompoet - enjoying shared vision

Saturday, May 03, 2008

things to do, while by the wayside (see last night's post)

  • eat porridge and read the Saturday newspaper, then drink coffee and read some more
  • clean the house
  • go see a movie
  • spend time with friends - just sit and listen and laugh
  • snuggle with beloveds
  • bake something
  • pet the cat
  • walk the dog
  • crank the stereo
  • blog
  • phone someone for no reason
  • wear a sweater
  • walk in the rain with no umbrella
  • wish someone happy birthday when it is not her birthday
  • stare at tulips until they look like something else
  • paint toenails
  • make a list then don't do anything on the list
  • put fresh sheets on the bed
  • watch a dvd in bed
  • cancel one commitment
  • say yes to something random and unusual
  • find a penny, give a penny
  • leave yourself a voicemail at another number
  • make an appointment for a haircut and colour
  • ask little of self, expect a small pleasant surprise some time in the new future
  • be still

Friday, May 02, 2008

maybe its just spring

I am well, life is delicious, I laugh loudly several times a day, love and am loved, and look forward with pleasurable anticipation to many things on an ongoing basis. My energy is ample for what I need to do, and I have many choices and not a lot of stress. I am busy and a bit tired, but from performing actions and pursuing things that have meaning for me.

At the same time, I feel inclined to dawdle, get muddle-headed and forget small details, and fantasize about just bundling up for a few days and doing nothing. It's not about resting up. It's more like backing out, and feeling like that would feel good for a while. Usually I charge up the hill, either that or roll down pell-mell, cackling with glee. Right now I'm sitting partway up the slope, grumbling a bit because the grass is making my butt itch.

I get this way in the springtime. Life goes on with merry goofy goodness, real sadness, sour injustice, extreme beauty and redemption that anchors my faith in the meaning of it all. I stand beside the flow of it for a while and say, "I am not part of this." I go through the motions like an actor, but inside I stop (or at least slow substantially) while it goes on.

I do this every springtime. I have since I was little. Today it found me again.

Here I stop.

There it goes.

question: did you ever?

mompoet - tuning my fork to a glossy green rhythm, still alien to my winter ears

Thursday, May 01, 2008

where I would like to go

My friend Kristene has moved with her husband Fred to a place in the Cook Islands called Aitutaki. Together they are managing a small resort on the beach. Here is a link to Kristene's blog, the Coconut Chronicles, in which she tops herself each week in making all readers (and viewers) wish they could just be there NOW (or preferably yesterday, and now).

question: would you like to, too?

mompoet - me too

please take care of the fog

My friend Diane sent me this link. I'm bookmarking drain. It looks like good stuff. Interesting to see this on the same evening that we hosted a poetry slam for Burnaby Youth Week.

question: who will take care of the fog?

mompoet - I think I know, but it's not just them. It's us too.

spirited away

Fi and I finished watching Spirited Away on dvd last night. I usually dislike animated features, and I've never paid attention to anime. My only glimpses of it have been when the kids watched Pokemon when they were little. I guess I have been missing something, because this movie was wonderful.

We watched the English version of it that was released in theatres a year or so ago. It won lots of awards. I'm sure I missed it at the time because I ignore animated movies. I had better rethink that.

Spirited Away is the story of a little girl, Chihiro, who gets lost in a world of spirits. She loses her parents and her name, and is forced to work at a bath house to survive. The story has a dream-like quality with many mythical elements, and themes of coming of age and self-discovery. The characters and situations that Chihiro encounters are frightening, confusing and funny. Chihiro is a regular little girl in extraordinary circumstances, figuring out what to do with witches, dragons, stink spirits, soot balls, bouncing disembodied heads and a giant baby. Like in most good young fiction, the children are smarter and more brave than the adults, and there's danger, reckless risk-taking and lots of guk. I loved it.

question: is there a type of movie that you never watch? have you ever been surprised?

mompoet - delightedly surprised