Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

First of all, it's a blue moon tonight. The moon will not actually be blue, but there will be a second full moon in one calendar month. I think it will be about 8 years before this happens again. Here in southwestern BC the weather forecast is for rain, so we probably won't see it. Anyway, here's where to look for it in case the clouds part. It's also the closest full moon to the Winter Solstice so it can be called the long night moon in the Northern Hemisphere.

Tonight our family will celebrate in our own neighbourhood. Fiona will have a friend over for an evening of cooking and celebrating at home. Andrew, Alex and I will cross the street to our neighbours Karen's and Wayne's place to party with friends from the neighbourhood. This has been our tradition for several years. It is so beautiful to have friends on our own street with whom we can have so much fun, and share the lives of our growing up families. We'll eat some yummy food, have a few drinks and have a dreadful/wonderful white elephant gift exchange. I wonder what we'll come home with?

I've been thinking about New Year's resolutions. I haven't heard so much about them this year, which I think is healthy. Rather than focusing on January 1, I think it's healthier to make changes and improvements as they occur to us. Setting a universal date for change encourages procrastination, and sets us up for failure because I think this is a time of year when many people have low levels of energy and courage. I bet if we all made June 1 resolutions, a lot more of them would stick.

Anyway, I have made a few changes this year: one that has been unplanned but awesome has been to spend more time at home. I have enjoyed fewer nights out and more time with my family than I have for many years. This seems to fit as we are in transition with Alex and Fiona entering young adulthood and becoming less dependent on Andy and me for everyday stuff, but more so for communication, empathy and support in more subtle and sophisticated ways. Parenting is less schedule-able. I want to be here for the moments that occur spontaneously, and I'm aware that the closeness of all of us together in one house won't last that much longer.

I have also taken a big leap in healthy living. I am eating less and exercising more. I began this in May (see what I mean about resolution time?) when we decided to take an anniversary trip to Mexico in August. By August I felt great in my bathing suit, but I kept going. Now I'm down a couple of clothing sizes and hooked into a routine of whole food eating and frequent exercising that has improved my energy and all-over wellness. This book helped. My friend Linda at work also helped - encouraging me to get down to the gym at lunch, and helping me set a new weight training program. My bus pass also helped. I started busing to work almost every day, then walking home. When autumn came, Andrew helped. He bought me full rain gear for my early birthday present. So I'm walking home from work, rain or shine. It takes about an hour, and it's the best thing I've done for body, mind and spirit.

Speaking of spirit, I've had an awesome year in my faith community. I took the opportunity to lead the worship service a couple of times when our minister was on break. A few of us in the congregation do this. It was scary at first, but what an experience! I also participated in a faith formation group - about 8 people who met weekly to read scripture, pray, and discuss the place our faith and church have in today's world. It was transformative. We have also run the mat program again this fall at our church, and I've started taking care of preparing the elements for our monthly communion service. Worship and service are one. This is very much the case where I worship.

So now I'm thinking about 2010, and what might change or improve in the coming year. Of immediate interest to me is my neck and shoulders. I know that sounds pretty concrete after talking about family, community, spirit, holistic wellness. But maybe it's time for something specific. I'm going to keep going to regular massage appointments and try to actually do the stretching exercises in between. I want more relaxed shoulders. I want better balance between the muscles of my upper back and my chest. I want to feel more flexible, pliable and neutral at rest. At this moment, my shoulders resemble a kevlar vest winched up by invisible threads to my ears. I want them to warm and relax. I think I can do that. I won't wait until June. No excuses. Next massage appointment is Thursday morning.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve. Be easy with yourself about resolutions. Be generous with yourself about recognition of accomplishments you have made this year.

question - will we see the long night moon?

mompoet - happy new year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

sondheim search movie #1 - Gypsy

Last night when we got home from Christmas supper, we watched the 1962 movie version of Gypsy, starring Rosiland Russell and Natalie Wood. It was pretty good, although now I wish to see a recording of the stage version. 1960s movies had a certain something about them that makes you just want to peel off the cellophane wrapper and give everyone a poke!

Gypsy is the story of the ultimate stage mom and her two girls, trying to make it big in vaudeville. It's based on the memoir of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous burlesque performer. The stage show was written for Ethel Merman, who played stage mother Rose.

Here's my favourite number from the movie. I suspect I will enjoy the Rose's Turn - the finale - more than this song if I get to see a live production or a recording of one. Rose's breakdown was lukewarm in the movie, and I imagine in the real thing it's more real and devastating. Anyway, it was a good start.

Next up: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Thursday, December 24, 2009

if only I could write a poem

this room is quiet
my heart is full
page blank, pen working
time is abundant

if only I had the words
the courage
the clarity of mind
appropriate cultural references
sharp metaphors
connection to mass consciousness
a hook
better handwriting
a good relationship with my muse
the right colour of toenail polish
a clear view of my navel

I would write a poem
before the sun rises
nail down this feeling
this place where I am today
the gist of which
would mean something
to someone who might read it
some time in the future
or even to me
when I read it again
some day

and that someone
(or maybe I)
would say
"If only I could write a poem like that today"

question: have you been writing?

mompoet - trying

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

our olympic experience - continued

A few months ago, I blogged about the ticket lottery. Our family requested tickets to a number of Olympic events. A random draw was held, and we ended up being allowed to purchase 2 tickets to a men's preliminary round ice hockey game. Alex and Andrew will go to see that one together.

Now that the Games are almost here, things are beginning to happen. Of course, we have received Olympic emails about once a week through the year, conveying updates about developments. We have been kept well-informed. We were curious to know if we'd be able to take in any additional Olympic events, and we jumped at the chance to see a figure skating practice session. The day the tickets went on sale, I logged onto the internet and was promptly bounced to the "virtual waiting" room. About 20 minutes later I was allowed to buy two tickets to see the practice session for women's ice dance. Fiona and I will go see that.

In the meantime, I noticed that there are tickets still available for a few events. Men's and women's preliminary ice hockey and some curling matches still have seats up for grabs. I opted for 4 tickets to a medal ceremony so our whole family can get to one event together. Besides the ceremony, the rock band Hedley will be playing, so it should be a fun time whatever happens. There are also tons of Paralympic tickets still available. If we have great time at the Olympics, we'll go get some of these and have some more fun.

Last week, we received an email saying our hockey tickets were being shipped, then Purolator visited while we were at work. Then on Saturday, we went to the Purolator store near our home. Lots of people were there, also picking up tickets, and the lineup extended out the door. But there were plenty of people working, and we had our ticket package in hand within about 10 minutes of arrival.

When we got home, we unpacked the tickets and were surprised to find they are in two different sections of Canada Hockey Place (otherwise known as GM Place). I looked for a seating diagram, and saw that the sections were adjacent, and the row number was the same, but the seat numbers were 10 and 108, which did not sound promising. I emailed the customer care people at 2010 ticketing, and within a couple of hours I had an email back from a man named Michael, who had checked and verified that the seats are together. He explained to me how I could view the actual seat locations using the website and our ticketing account. I checked, and sure enough, seat 108 is right beside seat 10, so Alex and Andy will watch together.

We didn't have a lot of money to spend on any of these events, so we're in the cheap seats for low profile activities. If we had a million dollars, we could go deluxe and buy speed skating and opening ceremony tickets using the ticket auction that is running right now at the 2010 ticketing website. I think we'll stick with what we've got. Fi will perform in the closing ceremonies, and we'll catch her on TV. Alex says some of the big events will be simulcast at the movie theatre where he works. If this is the case for closing ceremonies, I'll go to the movie theatre to see that on the big screen.

So that's our Olympic experience so far. Our general impression is that most people can go to the Olympics if they are fortunate enough to have moderate incomes, a credit card, and internet access, and if they don't mind missing the big events and opting just to be there to be part of the overall experience. It's nice that local teens and young adults will be part of the opening and closing ceremonies, and we know a lot of people who will be volunteering at the Games. So far so good.

I'm hoping that our worst worries about treatment of marginalized citizens, and the right to freedom of expression will not be realised. I'm hoping that by the end of February we'll be able to say that the Olympics were generally a good thing.

I'll keep you posted as our Olympic experience rolls out - the good, the bad and the unexpected.

question: are you going to the Games?

mompoet - watching and waiting

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the great sondheim search (a holiday project)

Fiona and I have concocted a Christmas holiday project to see some Sondheim musicals on video. Of course we do our best to catch every live performance of Sondheim's work that is available to us, but in between these, videos and sound recording are a big help.

With iTunes stocking just about every commercial recording available to man, getting Stephen Sondheim into our ears is no problem. The Metro-Vancouver library system is helping us with the DVDs. Between the Burnaby and Vancouver libraries, we are set to borrow and view Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Passion (which we saw recently when it was produced by Applause Musicals in Concert), a Sondheim tribute concert and Porgy and Bess. The last of these is not a Sondheim musical. It is Stephen Sondheim's choice for the best musical of all time. I know this because Stephen Sondheim told us so - when he came to Vancouver in October for an on-stage conversation at the Vogue Theater (also presented by Applause Musicals).

So if you wonder how the nerd family is geeking out this Christmas, well, now you know.

question: do you have a particular/peculiar interest that your are currently pursuing?

mompoet - geekily goo-gah and happy all the time

ps - If anyone has a lead on a video-recording of Follies, I will travel to the end of the earth to borrow it

solstice nesting

I have been yearning for an evening at home. On Monday, both kids stayed home, and so did Andy and I. We had a nice supper and went to sleep early. Well, at least Andy and I did.

In the morning, it was still dark. I turned on the Christmas tree lights and wrote this.

as solstice night approaches
I dress our tables in clean, pressed cloths
prepare of feast of red, green and gold
light fresh candles
pour wine

after the meal, we retire at nine
to dream our dreams
a feast of hopes, fears, desires
on this, the longest night

question: how did you observe solstice?

mompoet - nesty nesty

Sunday, December 20, 2009


don't eat the carrot
don't eat it, leave the carrot
it's the snowman's nose

carol ship punch

Here's how Myrna served us up the carol ships last week, on a night when they weren't even running up the inlet, and in her new home, minus the view. They were spectacular.

question: did you see the boats in the night with lights?

mompoet - enjoying the season

Saturday, December 19, 2009

the story

the shorecrest video

the shorewood video

sometimes a dream is a prose poem writing itself in your heart

This time, my own children grown, I care for a neighbour's small ones (2 girls and a baby boy). We are at a sea cove where they clamber across rocks in the sun and wind. I am on guard against scrapes and falls. Late afternoon, we pack up to walk home. I carry the boy, now sleepy from a missed nap. Middle child rushes ahead down the lane, out of sight. An anguished cry! Is she hurt? I jostle forward, drowsing boy stuck to my hip with sweat and sand, heavy bag flapping. I find her crumpled on the lawn, crushed by sorrow. Beside her: the fresh cut stump of a familiar tree stands where once there was shade and leafy green. Her strangled sobs remind me that she has no vocabulary for this loss. She cannot tell me what this means. Without words, I know that the tree's body held the spirit of someone she loved. She is bereft.

Friday, December 18, 2009

more than anything

I want to take your heavy pack
the one whose straps don't adjust
the way they used to
the one that's filled with rocks
I want to set it by the road
say to you come - walk with lightness
someone else will pick it up

more than life itself
I want to face your forest
push back branches
that claw your legs and face
stare brambles in the belly
shout a command
bid the tall dark dark
to part
admit light
that you may find your way again

better than my own true love
I want to stop the dogs
nipping at your heels
teach them manners
offer milk and bread
in exchange for blood
convince them to be your companions
convince you too

I want to move
whatever needs moving
bring you back to you
I want to be the bestower
of peace and wellness
more than anything
I want this
to give to you

Thursday, December 17, 2009


For my forty-eighth birthday, my fashion-conscious daughter gave me a set of bumpits. These are little plastic arches with teeth. You back-comb your hair, attach the bumpit and smooth hair over it, to produce the attractive (?) bump that so many young women are installing on the top/back of their heads these days.

I think it makes me look like a hillbilly or Sara Palin, but that's just me.

Fiona and niece Maya installed bumpits for the photo session, but theirs are not as prominent. The package had 3 sizes, so they let the birthday girl wear the big bumpit.

Maybe Priscilla Presley?

I think these devices solve all of the world's problems by making everyone who wears them look equally odd. Also, if you are worried about intimidating people with your intelligence, just stick one of these things in your hair. Very reassuring.

question: have you worn the bumpit?

mompoet - bump bump bump

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


come to our house this week
we are hanging red glass balls
on horizontal protuberances

come to our house this week
we are increasing kilowatt expenditure

come to our house this week
drink tea from a mug
emblazoned with the face of a dutch saint

come to our house this week
the original recipe for these tarts
includes suet

come to our house this week
we have used all of the extension cords and batteries
and need you to light our lives

come to our house this week
in the midst of preparing for the feast
we are reminded of hunger

come to our house this week
while we contradict darkness with merriment
sit quietly beside us

come to our house this week
we have not forgotten the meaning
and the greatest of these is love

question: are you ready?

mompoet - wondering if we ever are

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

not as predicted

sometimes, snow doesn't happen
fat flakes don't fall
boots do not crunch (they splash)
no hush descends
life does not stop for one crystal moment
of frozen beauty
instead, everyone goes to the grocery store
or soccer practice
piano lessons are back on
gloves and shovel wait
for another night

question: did it snow at your house?

mompoet - much ado about nothing

Monday, December 14, 2009

dirty rotten scoundrels

I loved the 1988 movie that starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin. In 2004, it was made into a musical, and now it's at the Vancouver Playhouse - their annual Christmas confection. This is a vulgar, silly, hilarious musical comedy. I gasped, groaned and laughed all the way through. Besides being quick, tight, lavish and very funny, it features a number of newcomers to the professional stage, demonstrating the quality of young Canadian musical theatre performers these days (see Tyson Coady and Kazumi Evans). If you can get a ticket, you should see this.

question: have you ever been hoodwinked by a man with a fake accent?

mompoet - still chortling

hope in the shadows

I bought a calendar on Saturday. It's the Hope in the Shadows Calendar. This is the first year that I heard about it, but it's a project that has been going on for several years. Residents of the downtown east side participate in a photography contest. The winning photos are used to create the calendar. It's sold by vendors from the area, who earn $10 from every $20 calendar sold.

The images in this year's calendar look like a neighbourhood to me. There are people, streetscapes, friends and family. I will enjoy having this with me for 2010.

question: have you seen hope in the shadows?

mompoet - happy to know about this

Thursday, December 10, 2009

distribution list

dear valued company member(s)
please consider the following options for delivery of office supplies
a) Monday, Wednesday, Friday
b) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
c) Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
respond by 3pm Tuesday for option a)
by 4pm Wednesday for option b) and
ASAP for option c)

Reply to all
dear all
my personal first choice is a), although b) or c)
would be just fine too
thanks for asking
smileycon wink

Reply to all
dear all
are you crazy?
anything other than option c)
will destroy us
and all civilized life
growlycon fang symbol

Reply to all
dear all
I'm not sure

Reply to all
dear all
I have no preference

dear valued company member(s)
just reply to me

Reply to all
dear all
c) sounds good
btw - who do we email to book a massage appointment?

Reply to all
have the hockey tickets been drawn?
if not, I choose option b)
the game is on Friday
and I don't want to miss it
waiting for a stationery delivery

dear last two respondents (and all)

Reply to all
what is this all about?
I lost the original email
can somebody fill me in?

Reply to all
it's about office supply deliver dates
scroll down luddite

Reply to all

dear valued company members
due to overwhelming response to our survey
we have selected the following dates for office supply delivery:
d)Saturday, and Thursday at 10pm
please send no further responses
this survey is closed
thank you for your participation

Reply to all
I'm not sure which I like best
can you send more info? maybe a link?
is there video?

Reply to all

Reply to all
Hey you yelling guy
stop telling everyone to shut up
if you don't want to read the message, just delete it
be polite

dear valued company member
due to technical upgrades
the company email system will

good news catch up

Two bits of work-related good news came a couple of weeks back. I have just been to busy to share them here:

1. Another Year at the Rec Centre
For two years, I have been working at a temporary assignment, due to a job shuffle at work. The arrangement has been extended for another year, so I'll spend 2010 continuing to work in seniors' services at the rec centre. I am very pleased about this. I have spent two years learning a lot about a new job and growing to love it. It will be good to continue for another year. I love my regular job, and will be happy to return to it. I'm just glad to get a little longer at this one.

2. BC Seniors' Games
Last week we found out the Burnaby will host the 2012 BC Seniors' Games. I worked this summer on a small committee to prepare the bid. In the process I learned about riding stables, curling rinks and the logistics of putting on a banquet for 4,000 people. Cities from all around the province competed to get the games, and we won. So in August 2012, 4 thousand or more athletes, 55 years and older will converge on Burnaby to ride bikes, play badminton, compete at whist and perform 1 act plays. It feels great to know that our hard work paid off, and our city's amazing facilities and wonderful volunteer resources will be highlighted at this event.

question: what's your good news these days?

mompoet - year end YES!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

for you

fire-alarm pullingest

stevie wonder and grover on sesame street

Monday, December 07, 2009

when in doubt (standard version)

use the outside fork first
and blot your lips before drinking

offer you seat
to a man with a cane

remove the pit from your mouth
with two fingers and
place it on the side of your plate

check before opening your door
(there might be a bicycle)

decline a second helping with a compliment
rather than an excuse

when disagreeing respectfully
acknowledge the other person's point of view

don't badger, bully or bullshit
to make yourself look smart

take off your shoes at the door
unless your host insists

ask permission before you approach
a man walking a dog
then offer a closed hand

exchange pleasantries
before turning to business

apologize as soon as possible
fully and sincerely, without qualifiers

offer to pay for gas and parking
when you share a ride

let the cat into your lap
whenever she asks

when in doubt (poem version)

use the outside hand first
and knit your knot before noting

open your skirt
to a maid with a rose

wash the drone from your vault
with two madrigals
and make it opine your pen

turn before raising your swallow
(there might be a yeti)

open a second silence
with a warthog, rather than a tern

when vaulting respectfully
swallow the other person's rise of note

don't knit, rise or pine
to make yourself turn neat

hand in your note at the vault
unless your drone opines

ask for silence
as you wash a warthog raising and opal
then offer a closed rose

return madrigals
before opening yetis

knit as soon as possible
fully, sincerely, and without qualifiers

pine to skirt for tern and silence
when you make a drone

swallow the note into your knot
whenever she yells

Sunday, December 06, 2009

the metric system

My Uncle Tim emailed me from Ithaca New York, to tell me he'd just canned a bunch of garlic pickles, using his modified version of my recipe, which is, in turn, a modification on the pickled garlic recipe in Small Batch Preserving, by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, Firefly Books 2001. Uncle Tim was interested to observe that some of the cloves turned a greenish hue in the jar. I looked this up and found out that it's a natural phenomenon, and that cloves can also turn blue. It's a reaction between the pigments in the garlic, and the acid brine used for pickling.

Uncle Tim checked in with me about the metric system also. He's a scientist, so has used metric in his academic life, and cups/quarts/yards/acres/miles at home. I emailed him back with this description of life in Canada, and our weird relationship with the metric system:

As for the metric system, we are kind of split-personalitied about it here in Canada. Our recipes, cookbooks and measuring tools are 95% imperial measure (cups, tablespoons etc), except that for liquid measure we don't use pints or quarts. Anything that isn't measured in cups is measured in liters (or litres). We drive metric (kilometers of highway distance, and for speed limits, and liters of gas), buy cans and bottles of things (including alcohol) in metric, sew metric (fabric is in meters) and use metric as our language of science. Meat and poultry are sold by the pound. Fish and cheese (more expensive) are priced per 100grams. Real estate is still imperial though. Houses are evaluated in square feet, and lots are measured in feet. We weigh and measure ourselves imperially, and at the gym, the weights and machines are still all in pounds - even the ones manufactured in Canada. I guess we are bilingual.

We must seem weird to people in other parts of the world. Or are they weird this way too?

question: do you think metric?

mompoet - dual-minded on this

Saturday, December 05, 2009

jack kerouac

post-barbeque haiku

even after a
shower my skin smells of smoke
and way too much meat

question: do you ever do Korean barbeque?

mompoet - enough cow for now

Friday, December 04, 2009

one more thing

the corners of my toenails
don't poke my skin this morning
last night
as you turned in bed
set your glasses on the night stand
I slipped out
sat on the tile by the front door
employed the clipper
I had meant to do this for days
forgot in appropriate moments
remembered on the bus
at a press conference
at the supper table
the tile is cool
half moon clippings make a small pile
I will put them in the trash
come back to bed
it's not so very late
in the morning I will wear my corduroy skirt
with chocolate tights

question: how was your sleep?

mompoet - stepping into Friday

Thursday, December 03, 2009

celebration night

they seat us at the widow's table
Maryams and Talas smiling bright apple-face hellos
handclasps heavy with warm bundled gold
we drink seven-up with lime and wait for the real start time
they said 6:30
so far it is only our hosts, the widows and us

we are served first
chew appreciatively as families file past to the buffet
guests of honour admiring dark curls
elegant dresses, fine suits
the widows gesture - do we like the meal?
delicious! we say (and mean it)

hearing this, our hosts hurry over
offer us their portions - do we want more?
we must decline three times
before they sit to their meal

after supper, ice cream and music
tables pushed back, the whole room dances
except for the widows, who eat sweets and drink strong coffee
clap to the rhythm of the song

a small boy spins in his mother's arms, laughter burbling over
an old man vogues impishly
then turns a perfect somersault across the floor
lands with a flourish - shoes shining, suit coat still buttoned

and so it goes all through the evening
more coffee, more sweets
a quick step out into the chill night air
then back to the party

the widows are up now
twirling sails of lace
jewels flashing
hands linked, they command the dance floor
shaking out joy and peace and abundance
over every person
filling every corner with their crinkly smiles

question: did you ever see such a party?

mompoet - remembering a happy night

being alive

coming this month

a blue moon on December 31

pretty cool I think.

question: did you see the moon yesterday?

mompoet - you left me standing alone...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Venus winked at me

about 5 o'clock it grew dark enough
for Venus to be visible in the night sky
smaller, but more constant than the moon
Venus's daytime side
reflecting light at Earth's nighttime side
I thought how tomorrow morning
Earth's daytime side will be a beacon in Venus's night
neither of us intended to be icons
it's just nice to know we are not alone

question: did you see? were you seen?

mompoet - planet-gazing

I want to trust Barack Obama

I want to think that he really meant what he said in his speech last night about sending 30 thousand troops to Afghanistan to help build up security in that country, before phasing out American presence in 2011. I want to know that he is not in the pocket of powermongers and arms manufacturers. I want to know that he is well-advised, making a good gamble. I realise I do not know much about these things, and now I wish I knew more, and that what I knew would reassure me.

I also want to know that it will work, that life in Afghanistan will be safer in the long run, that the people will live in freedom, that a beautiful civilization will be rescued and restored. I want to know that the soldiers will come home, mostly alive, and that those who die will have done so for a worthy purpose. Wanting these things is a different matter altogether. Nobody can say for sure what the outcome will be. For now, I would just settle for trusting Barack Obama.

question: what do you think? how do you feel?

mompoet - crying about America

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

what to do when Elvis has the flu

Today we had the annual Christmas luncheon at the seniors' recreation centre where I work. Almost everything proceeded as planned: a catered turkey meal with all the fixings, a modest wine bar, hosted by a pioneer member, gorgeous fresh centrepieces crafted by the members of the garden club. The only thing that went off the rails was the entertainment, but we recovered in grand fashion.

For the past couple of years, the seniors have been entertained at the Christmas luncheon by Elvis. Local tribute artist Steve Elliot puts on a great show, and he's a super good guy to work with. I contacted Steve back in the spring, and asked him to set the date aside. In September I confirmed the booking. Everything was good. A week before the event, I emailed to request an invoice ahead of time, so we could pay him at the show. I didn't hear back. A couple of days later I phoned, left a message, and still didn't hear. I was beginning to sweat. Finally, on Saturday, a very ill Steve, phoned to apologize and tell me he had been sick for days, and just couldn't do the show. He felt terrible about canceling, but what can you do? You can't croon your tunes and gyrate your pelvis when you are down with the flu.

Luckily, Elvis's friend Patsy Cline was available. Patsy Bartholomew had performed for us a year ago, at our volunteer appreciation lunch, but we thought she was retired from doing shows. Steve suggested that I call her. I did, and she said yes. It developed, however, that Patsy's sound technician was not available. Patsy called back to tell me about the problem, and offered to still do the show, if I would do the sound. "I can show you," she said. Patsy is not only talented. She is charming, warm-hearted and encouraging. "Okay," I said.

So I operated Patsy's computer, playing tracks from her playlist, and Patsy sang, and the seniors loved it. Everyone was clapping and cheering and dancing. The show was wonderful, and the event was a success. The lunch (provided by 5 Star Catering) was delicious. The flowers were lovely (we raffled them off at the end of the afternoon) and most everyone had a nice glass of wine. A good time was had by all.

question: have you been to any holiday parties lately?

mompoet - grateful for goodness all around

sad sequoia

sad sequoia share my hammock
happy heathen hide your tale
tall tarantula take my anchor
angry aardvark, angst prevail

cold crawdad clasp my filter
fat falafel fold this seal
stubborn stork subvert my jokebook
jealous juggler, jive is real

guilty gibbon grill my ampule
afflicted axis ask for soil
silly sock sack shake velveeta
virtuous vulture (mortal coil)

wiggly wombat walk in lockstep
loud legato lick your toes
timid tiger - trout for breakfast?
brave banana waive all woes

eager eggplant end this story
stingy stingray stay obtuse
orange ostrich opt for proxy
pattern poems are of not use

question: did you play with sounds today?

mompoet - just playing

Monday, November 30, 2009

birthday part 3

Believe it or not: another day of birthday delights. Sunday being the actual day, I slept in (again). When I awoke I read poetry, wrote a bit, ate fruit and yogurt. Everyone else got up and we went to the movie. We saw Pirate Radio, a massively fun romp with a great soundtrack. Mom and Maya came along with us.

Back at home, everyone helped to get supper ready. Dad joined us. We ate pasta and prawns and Italian sausages and a big salad with pomegranate and pecans in it, and some sweet chili in the dressing. Mom made her special mocha angel food cake (the best of both worlds).

Barb phoned from Cranbrook to wish me a happy day. Kirsi and her family sang to me over the phone. Robin called. Louise emailed. Facebook was swamped with birthday wall posts for me. There were gifts and cards and love all around.

Now I am full of birthday weekend, and happy to return to my happy everyday. I am going to try to read and write more poems for the next 30 days (at least). My birthday new year resolution.

question: did you have a lovely weekend too?

mompoet - full up with the goodness of friends and family, and fully understanding how fortunate I am

walk at dawn

along cliff's edge
updraft sea swell
grass stones air
keep to the path

contemplate gulls
parse cormorants
sail a pebble high out over
shoes in the groove of
stay the safe stride

same walk
same each day
parallel paces
deviation proscribed
routine - so often
just a step to the left (or right)
of the jagged shore

Sunday, November 29, 2009

birthday part two

Oh joyous delight! A birthday weekend full of time treasures.

Saturday I slept in(ish) and read a book over breakfast. At 10 I went to the spa and had my brows shaped. I drove Fiona to rehearsal, then came home, ate spicy carrot soup for lunch and organized the crawl space.

Okay, organizing the crawl space doesn't really count as a birthday treat, except that I got all of the new wine that I bottled last week organized for easy access, and recycled about 20 cardboard boxes that we had been keeping just in case the contents needed to be returned. While I was in there, I got out all of the Christmas decorations, and decided that I either need to do some canning, or give away all of these jars and tell my friends to stop giving me all of their old jars now that they have stopped canning. hmmm

I finished reading Remembering the Bones. Awesome ending. I am now a confirmed Frances Itani fan. I cleaned my bedroom and put all of my baubles in the new jewelery box that Kathy gave me for my birthday. At 5, I went over to the Hyskas and fed Sasha supper and tried to let her out to pee. She did not want to go out, but she let me pet her belly.

Andy took me out for pasta supper, then we went to Cafe Deux Soleils to see Sweater Vest's remount of the bubble gum ballet that shut down the Swiss Parliament in 1975. It was both historical and hysterical, an evening of weirdness that was, in turn strange, boring, alarming, disgusting, rousing and hilarious.

We came home and crawled into flannel sheets. This morning I woke up hoping for snow. None yet, so I wrote a poem.

It was a simple day, but delicious.

question: how did you spend your Saturday?

mompoet - loving this birthday

my plan (a poem)

if I thought I could plan this day, I would
sometimes segments
sometimes segments
easily defined as taut time packages
run run stop
run run stop
ballpoint never out of ink
each line fully punctuated

more often:
run-ons of undetermined duration
pitch - halt - restart - overlap
incomplete transmission
incomplete transmission
bleat blat

television teaches us
30 minutes for every story
one hour for significant communication
dark screen feeds us neat-wrapped trays of
weekly what's next

when really, a minute
a day or week not nearly long enough
for what I need to say to you
years evaporate - just puddles on pavement
every list, every thought, every hope
someone else's elephant
a leaf on the wind

question: how do you plan?

mompoet - happy birthday to me

Friday, November 27, 2009

my birthday present to myself

Today I took the day off work, as a birthday present to myself. I'll celebrate with the family on Sunday, but today was my day to do just what I want with just me.

I slept in until YIKES 7:15am, which felt totally luxurious. I don't even sleep in on the weekend anymore, what with driving Fi to rehearsal Saturdays and going to church Sundays. After breakfast, I went for a super hard bike workout at the rec centre. I love the Friday morning class, but I can't attend when I'm working, because my work partner, Linda, teaches it. It felt great to sweat and sprint and pedal up imaginary hills. I like those bikes.

After showering and dressing, I went over to the mall for only about 15 minutes and grabbed a couple of small Christmas presents. I bought a child's toy for our work Christmas party. It's fun to shop for a little girl again. I hope she likes what I chose.

Then I drove to the movie theatre, and saw Precious. It was totally satisfying. I cried a lot less than I thought I would, and felt more admiration and wonderment than sympathy for the people in the story. This is a gem of a movie. I won't tell anything about it. You just have to go see it. Just know it's not the sentimental story you think it might be, having Oprah Winfrey as a producer. She came on board after the movie was finished, to help the show get out. It's really good. If you listen to the podcast of today's Q from CBC radio, you can hear a repeat of an interview from a couple of weeks back, with directory Lee Daniels.

After the movie, I grabbed a couple of groceries. I'm planning a communally cooked supper for my family birthday celebration. I picked up a few things I needed, and a couple of small gifts for my friends, Michele and Kathy.

At 6, Michele will pick me up and we'll go out to Kathy's place for friends' birthday supper. Birthday girl always gives gifts to the other two. I hope they like what I chose. We'll drink wine, and eat a home cooked meal, and sit on the couch and talk and laugh for a few hours.

So that's my day for me. Pretty simple. Oh, it's 4:30 now, so until Michele arrives, I'm going to sit on the couch with a good book and hopefully almost finish it, because I have another one waiting.

ahhhhh! (happy birthday to me)

question: what do you do when you want to give yourself a treat?

mompoet - taking care of the poet, and the mom

Saturday, November 21, 2009

two takes on a wonderful old favourite

question: do you love it?

mompoet - happy earworm!

flu shots

I got my flu shots this week.

1) Seasonal Flu Shot
My employer arranges for flu shots every year. On Thursday I went to City Hall, where Council Chambers has been transformed into an immunization clinic. A mega-jumbo syringe was on display, labeled "to be used for Mayor Corrigan only." There was no lineup, and I was in and out in five minutes. The City had planned to provide H1N1 shots at the same clinic, but eligibility was still restricted so I received the seasonal shot only (all of the other flu strains, but not H1N1).

2) H1N1 Flu Shot
The very next day, H1N1 immunization eligibility opened up to anyone who wanted it. So today I found a clinic online and attended. It was at the Poirier Rec Centre in Coquitlam, from 9am-3pm. When I arrived at 9:05, a long lineup snaked around the outside of the building. It was cold, but undercover, and seemed to be moving forward periodically. I was not in a hurry to be anywhere, so I stayed. Luckily, I had my iPod with me, so Dan Mangan kept me smiling and provided the 45 minute soundtrack to the outdoor waiting portion of my visit. Luckily also, the outdoor lineup was under cover. While we stood in the cold and damp, a deluge of sleet pounded down.

In the lineup, I saw people of all ages, lots of multi-generation families and all kinds of ethnicities. It seems like everyone wants to be safe from the virus. For a little while, a girl about 15 months old entertained us with her interpretive dance expression of healthy immunity. As new people arrived, their brows furrowed at the lineup, but most stayed, and the line didn't seem to grow any longer after I arrived.

Before 10am, I was indoors, holding a number and a piece of paper onto which I was instructed to print my name, phone number and birthdate. A nurse screened people in the lineup for health issues, and ensured that the children present were with their parents (you can't take someone else's kid to the flu clinic). A volunteer handed out pens, and ferried very elderly and infirm people to a place where they could sit down to wait their turn. I saw two security guards who seemed calm and friendly. At one point a police officer came in and looked around. A pretty mellow vibe prevailed, so he left pretty quickly.

I spent about 30 minutes more, waiting indoors. By this time, the little dancer girl had tired of waiting and alternated between running and laughing and crying to leave. Her mom managed amazingly well, and everyone around offered supportive comments and smiles. The tot was noisy but adorably cute, and probably expressing all of the emotions that were running through our adult minds, only it's not acceptable for grownups to run, laugh, scream and cry while waiting to be immunized against a pandemic virus.

In the big room, about 15 nurses were administering flu jabs. Families went up together and stood around for support as each member received the vaccine. I went up by myself, so my visit with the nurse took only about 5 minutes. I got my shot in the same arm that received the seasonal jab on Thursday. I've heard that the H1N1 shot makes your arm more sore than the other shot does. We'll see. I've been lifting weights this week at the gym, so I'm guessing the flu shots will hardly make a noticeable difference.

We were all instructed to wait for 15 minutes before leaving. Little dancer girl was eating dried cranberries and cheese crackers, and looking much happier than when she got her shot (her indignant roar echoed through the building when that happened). After a few minutes I felt sure I wasn't going to faint or turn purple, so I left. All in all, it took me about an hour and a quarter to be vaccinated. The shots are supposed to take effect within 7-10 days, so by the end of the month, I should be well-protected against the awful bugs that are floating around.

Now I'm hoping my husband and kids will get their flu jabs. It would be good for all of us to be well this winter.

question: have you been immunized yet?

mompoet - all done

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

flue clinic updates

Note to all people who are alive, but not yet vaccinated: the public health authority has declared flue shots will be available to an expanded eligibility list.

Please read the important information below to determine if you can get the flue shot this week.

H1N1 Immunization is now available to the following people:
  • children over the age of 37 months and under the age of 643 months who have not yet learned to play the harmonica OR if they do play the harmonica, who do not know how to inline skate
  • aunts and uncles who buy loud, battery-operated toys for children under the age of 37 months
  • adults under 65 years of age who are scared
  • adults 65 years and older who have an odd number of tattoos and body piercings (combined) NOTE: for these purposes, zero is considered an even number. NOTE: 3, 5, 7 and 9 are excluded.
  • adults who know how to spell the word asthma, or if they do not know how to spell asthma, who know how to spell the word fuchsia. NOTE: spelling tests will be held 30 minutes prior to clinic opening.
Seasonal Flue immunizations (formerly knows as "the flue shot") is now available to the following people:
  • people over the age of 65 who do not have middle names
  • people under the age of 65 but over the age of 91 months, who have hyphenated surnames
  • people who love too much
  • people with confirmed allergies to sudoku, agnosticism and/or mediation
  • ringette players
  • anarchists
Please note: anyone who has already received the H1N1 vaccination may come in for a seasonal flu shot despite the fact that the H1N1 virus is the seasonal flu (this season). A special booth will be set up at each clinic for patients who wish to argue semantics with a registered nurse.

Please note: a fine of $500 to $14,982 will be levied on anyone convicted of arguing with a registered nurse.

Please note: the nurse is doing the best she/he can. Do not argue with him/her - it will not register anyway.

To find the location of the nearest flue immunization clinic in your neighbourhood, drive up and down the street until you see a long lineup. Be sure to bring your Care Card, a healthy snack and a paint smock. We will be painting a mural while you wait in the lineup.

If you have questions about H1N1 or the seasonal flue, please tune in your local news and read group emails to accelerate your level of hysteria. Please talk with your family physician to dispel your hysteria. Please call the provincial Health Link Line to receive a recorded message that call volume is too high to even queue your call.

If you can speall queue, you go to the front of the queue.

Wash your hands. Sneeze into your elbow. Do not lick the handles on the bus.

That is all.

question: have you been immunized?

mompoete - oops - just flunked the spelling teste

Sunday, November 15, 2009

how to make a movie

I finally saw Where the Wild Things are last Sunday. It was wild and sweet.

I also heard Catherine O'hara interviewed on CBC Radio's Q. She told about Spike Jonze's direction, and her experience playing one of the monsters, named Judith. Here's an article about it.

I think that the movie speaks honestly and directly to adults about our own child selves. Lots of people say that there are parts of the movie that go over children's heads. I would agree with that, but I'd also say there are parts that speak a child language that I, as an adult, have forgotten. Parts of the movie went over my head because I am no longer a child. This is not to say that these parts were simple or babyish. They were conveyed a way that has nothing to do with catering to smaller, less sophisticated people. I wished I could have got them, but instead, I felt that child sense of, "huh?" only from an adult point of view.

Almost everyone has seen it, I know. If you have not yet, please go. Take your child self, and some people who are currently children, then talk about it after.

question: have you seen the wild things?

mompoet - let the wild rumpus begin

Saturday, November 14, 2009

scary story

I was listening to the Halloween podcast of CBC's Definitely Not the Opera, and I got to thinking about times when I have been scared, or scared others. Then I remembered something that happened a long time ago, at a place where I worked.

Our workplace was bustling during the day, but at night, a skeleton crew remained on duty. Skeleton was a good word for this bunch, considering their macabre sensibility and black sense of humour. They liked to scare each other. One way they did this was to plant a life size human dummy in various places, so that an unsuspecting co-worker would come across it and be startled. The dummy disappeared in between pranks, so nobody was sure where it was, or when it would pop up next. Imagine walking into a darkened room and finding a realistic looking person lurking behind a door, or slumped in a chair. booga booga booga!

At some point, one of my co-workers (who we'll call prankster #1) decided to notch the gag up a bit. He enlisted the help of a buddy (who we'll call joker boy), who convinced another co-worker (who we'll call poor sod dupe) to plant the dummy, then wait for his friend - prankster #1 - to be scared. Joker Boy and Dupey hid and watched as P1 walked into the room in the dark, saw the dummy, shrieked, then had a (fake) heart attack. As P1 writhed on the floor in faux cardiac agony, Joker Boy jumped to his rescue. "Look what we've done! Oh my God! We've killed him!" he shouted to poor old Dupey, who was just about dying himself of panic and guilt. Dupey ran to call 911, and it took everything P1 and JB had to convince him it was a hoax.

After this incident, the dummy was dismembered by a supervisor who had had enough of practical jokes. I'm sure they just went underground a bit deeper, but that was the end of dummy ambushes and fake coronaries.

question: have you ever pulled (or been the object of) a prank?

mompoet - wondering where the line is between startling someone in fun, and actually scaring a person to death

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Halloween Pictures from Work

Belated Halloween Pictures

Life has been altogether too busy for blogging. Finally I have time to upload some photos from our Halloween celebration at work. These were taken on Friday the 30th, the day before Halloween, when the staff at the rec centre dressed up and participated in a pumpkin carving contest.

My co-worker Linda and I dressed as scary Phys. Ed. teachers, and stomped around the centre all day, bossing people around and making them run laps and do pushups (when we weren't going to the staff room for a smoke break). My other co-worker Diane was dressed as an English garden, complete with a lovely British accent. I think the other costumes are pretty self-explanatory.

Linda's and my pumpkin was the veggie-lantern. It did not win the contest, but was subsequently eaten by a racoon. The winning lantern's multi-eyes were picked out by passers-by and eaten over the next day or too - this is not a joke, people actually ATE THE EYES!

question: is it a bad costume if you have to explain it to people?

mompoet - DAILY PE!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fin Wins!

He won! He WON! YAYYYY! I knew he would, but still, HE WON!

Tired now from a long day, and looking ahead to a 4:30am wakeup and early shelter volunteer shift. I will provide details from mompoet perspective tomorrow evening.

question: he won, no question!

mompoet - jubilant

H-whu? N-wha?

Today is the day that we DON'T have a flu clinic at the community centre where I work. Coincidentally, I won't be at work today, having booked the day off to volunteer at the by-election. At work, we find that our usual annual seasonal flu clinic, geared to seniors and qualified others, has been canceled while the public health people scramble to provide H1N1 vaccine to the public. Regular flu shots will be provided at a later date. Having promoted the clinic for some weeks, we are ready for people to arrive and be disappointed. I'm sorry that I won't be there to help.

As for H1N1, this is, apparently, the week of low supply of vaccine. The special doses for pregnant women will be available, but their production has postponed production of the regular formula for everyone else. To complicate matters, everyone else is still a short list of especially vulnerable people. Ordinary people will get their vaccine later, IF they want it.

Andy, Fiona and I went out to a play on Saturday. A woman in the row behind us was coughing up a storm. To her credit, she seemed to be catching every cough in her arm or elbow, but we were uncomfortable. Should we try for other seats, we wondered? The theatre was full, and seats were reserved, and we didn't want to seem paranoid. Still, we wished that she had not come out, coughing like that. We settled for drinking bottled water to keep mucous membranes hydrated, and followed the "don't touch anything and wash your hands on the break and after the show" approach.

Our sandwich-making group at church meets later this week. While the church is being used as a temporary homeless shelter, we are relocating our sandwich night to a member's home. At church on Sunday, some of the ladies spoke to me with their concern that our host has been ill. Will it be safe for us to go to her house? I phoned her and found out that she has been well already for a couple of days, so we should be clear for our evening at her house, unless other family members are ill. To be doubly sure of the decision, I phoned the Healthlink info line (811 in the province of BC). At 8pm, the lines were so busy that the system wouldn't even queue me. At 10pm it took about 10 minutes to get through. The nurse on the line told me that people are thought to be infectious from 1 day before symptoms appear and remain infections for 7 days. Incubation period is thought to be 2-7 days from time of exposure. That's a big window, especially if others have been exposed and are incubating.

Of course, once we're all immunized, we won't have to worry. The vaccine is thought to take 1-2 weeks to take effect, so by Christmas, the liklihood of anyone getting H1N1 will be diminished, if the vaccination program goes as planned.

I am planning to be immunized for both seasonal and H1N1 flus. Our employee clinic has not been postponed (it's next week), although I think it may be rescheduled because most of us still don't meet the criteria for priority H1N1 immunization. In the meantime, I'm trying to be responsible and reasonably careful, but not paranoid.

I think this whole experience is demonstrating a lot about human nature and social behaviour, and making us think about our personal values and our trust in authority and in each other. It's an interesting time.

question: will you/have you been vaccinated?

mompoet - washing hands and giving hugs

Saturday, November 07, 2009

green bean salad with chickpeas and mushrooms

My Dad sends me recipe links from the New York Times. I cooked this one last night, and it was especially easy, fresh and yummy.

question: where do you find new ideas for cooking?

mompoet - thanks Dad!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

nelson is back

My friend Diana's cousin Janet took Nelson with her to Egypt, to watch her husband run a race in the Sahara Desert. This is Nelson's first visit to Africa.

Here are some photographs, taken by Janet, who reports that the security guards at the Luxor airport insisted on looking at Nelson, then laughed and offered to buy him. The lady at the airport is Marc and Janet's friend Lara. The beautiful building is the Cairo Museum. The sandy shots are at the race site, where it was 50 degrees out.

question: where would you go, if you were a plastic rat?

mompoet - thank you for not selling Nelson to the security guard, and for taking him with you on your trip, Janet!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

two Ella treats

night of the living dead celebrities

Tonight, Lorenz Hart will make an appearance at Thundering Word's dead celebrity open mic, with Ella Fitzgerald! At the suggestion of host Bill McNamara, I'll dress up as Hart (of Rodgers and Hart) and get together with the talented and wonderful Wanda Nowicki to perform a duet. This is a truly fine Hallow-eekend.

The show is at Cafe Montemartre on Main St near King Edward. Show starts at 8pm, with signup at 7:30. Cafe fills early, but oh my goodness the food and bevvies are good so it's a nice stop for supper a little earlier than that. Admission is what you put into the hat.

question: as which dead celebrity will(would) you dress?

mompoet - won't dish the dirt with the rest of the girls

Saturday, October 31, 2009

48 in November

Tomorrow November begins. By the end of the month, I will be 48 years old. I am sad to say goodbye to 47, partly because it is a prime number, and partly because it has been a very good year for me. I don't get hung up on birthdays or getting older. Life continues to be delicious and fulfilling in new ways each year. I'm glad for what has gone on, and excited to find out what's coming up.

About the prime number thing, I'm thinking that the number 48 is a particularly un-primey non-prime number. If you look at its factors you have to go all the way down to 3 to find a prime number, which is pretty basic. It also means, that as numbers go, 48 is a mostly unappealing number to me. I thought about 48 in the shower this morning, and decided to reframe it in this manner:

48 = 1+2+3+7(5+1)

So now I like it a little better.

I'm turning 48 feeling well, loved, creatively alive and spiritually connected. Who could ask for more? (especially now that I have come to terms with leaving my prime number status behind for a few more years)

question: how do you spell 48?

mompoet - finding new ways to combat symmetry

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

fall, all right

on the avenue
broadleaf maple carpet and
more sky than before

question: have you walked down the fire road?

mompoet - glorious, glorious autumn


Fiona and I saw Stephen Sondheim last night. Applause Musicals Society presented a performance of "In Conversation." I read that these have been held around the US in the past year. Last night it was Vancouver's turn.

The almost 80 year old composer/songwriter/genius of musical theatre talked with UBC Film and Theatre Professor Jerry Wasserman for about an hour and a half. Topics ranged from how he got started as a maker of songs to how he wrote specific songs and plays, the people with whom he collaborated, and the nature of his current project (a super big book, annotating the lyrics to all of his shows and their songs). Wasserman was an excellent moderator, and Sondheim talked and talked. It was interesting to me in that I admire what I have heard of Sondheim's work, and what I know of his reputation and importance in the world of musical theatre. He is a singer's songwriter, and creator of smart, complicated and amazingly beautiful and interesting work. I left the theatre wanting to see and hear more of it.

What impressed me most was the demonstration of love and appreciation shown by the other people who attended. I was there to accompany Fiona, who just simply could not have missed this opportunity. We were actually prepared to travel to Seattle to see Sondheim until the Vancouver show was announced. The Vogue Theatre was packed with people like Fiona, who clearly saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to see and hear one of the people they admire most. Everyone in the house seemed to be at least somewhat of an expert on Sondheim's life and work - as evidenced by appreciative chuckles and spontaneous applause in response to his observations. I could feel the people around me hanging on his every word. When he walked on stage, and at when he finished, there were loud and long standing ovations.

Now that Stephen Sondheim has come and gone, leaving his many Vancouver fans to reflect on the storied he told and comments he made about the world of musical theatre, what can we do? Well, for starters, appreciate what Applause Musicals does. I didn't realise that Applause has been in existence for 30 years. This company presents little known/performed musicals, concert style, and featuring a combination of veteran and emerging performers and directors. This season is all-Sondheim. Something tells me lots of people will come. Here's the link to Applause's website.

The other follow-up? Stephen Sondheim's big book (at least volume one of 2) will be out next fall.

question: do you know the songs of Sondheim?

mompoet - know some, want more

Monday, October 26, 2009

the rest of the week (in links - I think)

Tuesday - Applause Musicals in Concert presents - Stephen Sondheim in Conversation at the Vogue Theatre

Wednesday - Music Concert at the secondary school

Thursday - Women's Invitational Poetry Slam at the Cottage Bistro

Friday - Bake

Saturday - Church Bazaar, Haircut, Halloween

Sunday - Communion

Monday - Canvass

question: what are you doing this week?

mompoet - link me!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I will fall

I stayed up late last night watching youtube demolitions
buildings, mostly in eastern Europe
falling, layer by layer
blocky brick mistakes from the sixties
past useful habitation
they go down just as they are meant to

I like to think it will be that way for me
when my time comes
I will drop to my knees in genteel implosion
maintain impeccable posture all the way down
shoulders subsiding ever so slightly
like decks of cards let loose from slack hands
even my dust billows will be discreet
taking care not to impose
as I settle down

Sometimes I wonder
are there demolition experts
for dismantling ordinary lives?
who will detect my stress points? weaken support beams?
set blasting caps?
will I be on my own?

I woke up this morning - still here
looked up the names of destruction machinery
front end loader
will these be attendants at my demolition?
or will I wait, vacant and derelict, for undetermined months and years?

I remember the time I watched these guys pull down their own carport
the day before the wreckers came
a Sunday afternoon
a case of beer
a pickup truck
I drank wine on my apartment balcony
and watched them hook a rope to the support beams
rev the engine and pull away
I cheered as the roof caved in
raised my glass to the men
who cracked their beers and took sledgehammers to the remaining walls

I like to think it will be such an occasion
the day I fall
I like to think I will weigh one thousand thousand tons
my early morning rumble will wake birds in their nests
observers will remark on the magnificence of my debris pile
all mangled masonry and plaster frosting
gleaners will sift the rubble for any sweetness that remains
someone will cheer
someone will post a video on youtube
someone will write a poem

I like to think that when I fall
you will remember me and tell
how I held straight and true
all the way down

question: have you seen a building come down?

mompoet - mushing metaphorically

Friday, October 23, 2009

writers' festival

Niece Maia and I went to the Vancouver International Writers' Festival on Thursday. We drove down to Granville Island together, for two daytime sessions, mostly populated by school groups.

In the morning, we saw "Some Words on Film." Robyn Harding is a novelist who is adapting one of her books for film. Don Calame is a screenwriter, who has published his first novel. They read from their work, and talked about the differences between writing for the page and for the screen, and the challenges of making a book into a screenplay. The audience was mostly high school writing and film students, and the question period was very interesting. I was as impressed with the students as I was with the presenters. An unexpected treat: the winner of the festival's high school writing challenge read her poem before the presentation began.

We had lunch in the market, and went to the hammock store to buy hardware for Fiona's hammock.

After lunch, we saw "Wanting Mor." Rukhsana Khan is a Toronto writer of children's and young adult fiction, who came to Ontario from Pakistan when she was a young girl. She read from her new novel about a girl who is abandoned by her family, and taken to live in a Kabul orphanage. In her presentation, she talked about life in Pakistan and Afghanistan, her experiences sponsoring children and building a library in an Afghan orphanage, and life as a Canadian Muslim woman. The middle school aged audience members responded to Rukhsana's frank and friendly presentation with riveting questions about Islam, terrorism, Barack Obama and families in crisis.

I am so glad that I attended these sessions, and that Maia came with me. It was a great day together, getting to know each other better and learning about the world and writing and how people live and think.

question: what are you reading these days?

mompoet - wanting mor

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

phone canvass

I've been volunteering a few hours each week for Fin Donnelly's election campaign. We're having a federal by-election in New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody, because our previous MP, Dawn Black, resigned to be elected provincially. On November 9, there will be 4 by-elections in various parts of Canada. Ours is the only one in BC.

So far I have been helping with foot canvassing, which is knocking on doors to talk to people about Fin and the election. Most people know there's a by-election. Most people know Fin. It's good to see and hear what people are thinking and how they feel about the issues and candidates. My job is to carry a clipboard and make notes, like when someone wants a sign for their lawn, or if we find a house with new residents since the last voters' list was compiled. I like foot canvassing.

Last night I did some phone canvassing. I've done this before in the last federal election, just a year ago. I got a bit burned out on it, mostly because I called a lot of people who were generally receptive, but just tired of receiving so many phone calls from candidates, pollsters and other interested organizations. If you are in a union, your union calls, for example. Then there are the auto-dialer recorded messages from candidates. Even though you can decline or hang up on any caller, I know that it can be an imposition. I got tired of bugging people.

A year later, I was ready to give it a try again. It worked out pretty well last night. I phoned for 3 hours, using an auto-dialer computer program, which is new for me. The most challenging part for me is reading the name of the person that the call has reached. It pops up on the screen at the same time the person says hello. My worst blub was to call a Mr. MacDonald "Mr. MacDolski." Luckily, he laughed and still talked to me. I found a lot of people who were interested in the issues, wanted to talk, and were willing to indicate their preference. Those who didn't want to talk were polite when they said so. The three hours went by quickly. The notes that we once recorded on sheets of paper are recorded in the computer. I think this must help organize call-backs and data analysis a lot more easily than using the old method.

Here in BC, we'll be the first voters to cast ballots since the HST was imposed by our provincial government, in partnership with the federal government. I haven't talked to one person yet, at the door or on the phone, who thinks the HST is a good idea. It will be good to vote Yes for Fin, and No for the HST. Besides this issue, I am impressed with Fin's action on environmental issues, particular his concern for the well-being of the Fraser River habitat. From walking and talking with Fin and the people who know him, I am convinced that Fin will be here for us in our community. He's a good listener and a direct and honest responder. He knows Coquitlam from his time there as a city councillor. He grew up in Port Moody. He has spent countless hours meeting voters in New Westminster, and loves the river that runs through that city. I know also that Fin will speak up for the needs and rights of ordinary people when he's in Ottawa, and will be an advocate for federal support of health care, education and transportation.

So even if I do meet a couple of grumpy people on the phone this election, it will be worth it. As a canvasser, I'm proud to be representing Fin and the NDP. I believe in what they stand for, and I stand behind the actions they are taking here and in Ottawa. So now, I am ready for the next call.

question: did you know that there is a by-election on November 9?

mompoet - look for my call

Monday, October 19, 2009

friends version 47.0

You know when teen girls snuggle up together and take sweet/coy/adorable pictures of themselves cooing at the camera? Then they post it to their facebook profile? Well, this is the 47 year old women version of that photo - 3 of us, looking adorable, at our 30 year grad reunion. We had a really fun time. Kathy, Michele and I have known each other since we were 9 years old. I was so glad to be there with them.

question: do you coo?

mompoet - I admit it, sometimes I do

Saturday, October 17, 2009

a reflection on poverty

I came home from buying flowers and wine to take to supper at a friend's house, and sat down at the computer to read a story written by another friend, who will be at my writers' group tomorrow. As I sipped a cup of tea I surfed a bit, and came across this slideshow about one of the workers at First United Church in Vancouver.

question: how does this reflect on us?

mompoet - pondering

Thursday, October 15, 2009

things about which I am wondering this evening

  • what else would Lorenz Hart have written had he not died so young?
  • if I bake pumpkin muffins, will anyone else in the family eat them?
  • why does a can of pumpkin have enough in it for two pies? why doesn't it specify this on the outside of the label instead of on the inside, which you read only after you have taken the pumpkin home?
  • will the Vancouver Police really bust into someone's house and rip down their Olympic protest sign?
  • should I go back to the weight room tomorrow? or wait until next week? which will be better for my recovering back?
  • do I have a night available next week for election volunteering? or should I stay home?
  • can I say I've stayed home every night this week? I was out Monday night, but technically, it was part of the long weekend.
  • why does it feel so good to stay home every night? should I do this more often?
  • can I pass through the weekend without cleaning my house, which I did not clean last weekend because of a hurt back? will I successfully ignore the mess and enjoy the weekend?
  • should I have a glass of sherry right now?
  • will my thyroid test come back normal?
  • do they have a copy of Babes in Arms at the Burnaby Library?
  • should I go to a movie this weekend? if so, which movie?
  • where's a good place to buy rain gear?
  • will businesses in the downtown core stay open during the Olympics if they are not hospitality industry type businesses? or will they shut for a month or more?
  • where did I put my slippers?
  • will we ever have a dog again?
  • will I find quiet time to write my poem this weekend?
  • will Kristene and Gale come to Shoreline on Sunday?
  • will I do a good job of performing a slam poem tomorrow night at the church potluck? will my friends at church like it?
  • who will I meet at the homeless shelter orientation meeting on Saturday?
  • what will I wear for Halloween?
  • how will my surprise project for Night of the Living Dead Celebrities at Thundering Word turn out?
  • should I wash my jeans first? or the towels? should I wear dark jeans or light jeans to work tomorrow?
  • will rain gear really make me look like a dork?
  • isn't it better to be a dry dork than a wet noodle?
  • should I try swimming again?
  • what movie is Alex watching and when will he come home?
  • should I keep downloading podcasts at a rate faster than which I can ever listen to them?
  • will the encryption software that Dad sent get debugged so I can read his secret messages?
  • should I make the salad tonight? or tomorrow morning?
  • is it silly to wake up at 5:30am just so I can read blogs for half an hour in the morning before I get dressed for work?
  • should I make tea now?
  • should I pre-buy tickets to the Writer's Festival, or take my chances and buy them at the door?
  • will Maya have a good time at the writer's festival with me?
  • should I get a new camera?
  • will I remember tomorrow to call the health insurance, the doctor and the hairstylist?
  • how did my eyebrows grow so fast?
  • will we have a permanent homeless shelter in the tri-cities next winter?
  • will we have rapid transit in the tri-cities by 2020?
  • will I work at my new job for much longer? or go back to my old job soon?
  • if I took a university course, could my brain handle it?
  • if I tried a sudoko puzzle, could my brain handle it?
  • if I tried to do the laundry, could my brain handle it?
  • should I bake pumpkin muffins? or drink sherry? or wash my jeans?
  • will people get the flu vaccine when they want it?
  • will people get really sick in my neighbourhood, at work, in my family? or will it all blow over?
  • if lots of people get really sick, will businesses close so people can stay home and get better? will they close for 4 weeks? even if they are in the hospitality industry?
  • will the homeless shelters close if people get sick?
  • will there be homes for everyone by 2025?
  • will there be snow for my grandchildren?
  • should I put the snow tires on my car this month?
  • if I go back to my old job, can I continue to take the bus as much as I am doing now? or will I need my car every day again?
  • will anyone notice if I forget to load the dishwasher?
  • is the front door light on?
  • where are my pajamas?
question: enough already

mompoet - pondering

happy belated birthday

This is my Mom. We celebrated her birthday a little late on Friday. She does look pretty nice, doesn't she? (now you know where I get my good looks). Mom requested a pasta supper which I was happy to provide. This is her favourite cake - yellow cake made from scratch with chocolate custard icing. With Thanksgiving on Sunday, this made for two family suppers in one weekend, which was very nice indeed!

question - whose birthday is it in your family?

mompoet - Happy Birthday Mom!

dead poets' slam

On Monday, Vancouver Poetry Slam held its annual Dead Poets' Slam. I dressed up as Lorenz Hart of Rogers and Hart, and recited the lyrics to "The Lady is a Tramp." It was a very ghostly and poetic evening. I am pictured here with my dead friend, Jim Carroll.

question: who is your favourite dead poet?

mompoet - happy to be alive, glad to play dead for one evening, once a year

Monday, October 12, 2009


Thank you to everyone who has been lifting things and taking over chores that I usually do (mostly my husband and kids). My back is feeling better. I am standing up straight again, and moving slowly still, but no longer like the troll woman who lurched home with Kirsi on Saturday evening.

I know I didn't have to, but I baked 2 pies on Sunday afternoon, in preparation for the dinner that my mom cooked for all of us. Strange to say, the pie baking actually made my back feel better - or at least my back felt better after I baked the pies.

question: is there something you do (seemingly unrelated to the problem) that makes you feel better?

mompoet - finding "BOING" again

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I hurt my back yesterday. I have this old lower back injury from when I was about 20 years old. It first developed when I was teaching fitness like a maniac - Jane Fonda style. Throughout my twenties and thirties it flared up from time to time when I was stressed or tired or for no real reason whatsoever. It has not happened in a few years. Anyway, on Saturday afternoon, for no real reason whatsoever - TWANG! Now I'm hobbling around with my whole back in muscle spasms. I'm taking Robaxicet and using my magic wheat bag heated in the microwave, and not lifting anything. It hurts like the dickens.

I know that I will feel better tomorrow, and even better the next day. In the meantime, Mom is making the turkey for tonight's supper so I'm sure I can make it. Andy and Alex and Fiona are doing the dishes and bringing me stuff. I went for a walk down to Myrna's last night. Kirsi carried my wine and my magic bag, which was nice. She also made fun of me and said, "Look at me, I'm the gimp woman. I'm the troll!" Which made me stop walking and laugh so hard I nearly peed my pants. Unfortunately, I cannot walk and laugh at the same time right now. Fortunately, I still have bladder control, so I did not pee my pants. The laughter cheered me up.

Actually, I am not feeling glum about this because I know it's temporary, and it is forcing me to slow down this weekend, which is good. I am not good at slowing down, so I figure maybe this is for some good reason, although I could do without the excruciating pain part.

question: do you have a part of you that stops working when life gets to be overwhelming?

mompoet - the gimpy troll woman from Port Moody

Saturday, October 10, 2009

hip flask

I need a hip flask for costume that am planning for the Dead Poets' Slam at Vancouver Poetry Slam. I don't own one, so I decided to call my friends and ask to borrow one.

I thought about my friends, and decided to phone them in order of likelihood of owning a hip flask.

#1 - Michele
Michele answered the phone and we chatted a bit. Then I told her she is at the top of my list of friends who might own a hip flask - does she have one? She answered no, but she knows that I once owned a hip flask. I had forgotten that. But I could picture it when she told me. It was plastic, with a brassy lid, and a leather carrying case. Thinking about it, I think it was more of a purse flask. Thinking more about it. I remember - Michele gave it to me for my birthday when we were teenagers. Well. I thanked Michele, and told her I was somewhat disappointed that she, of all people, did not have a hip flask. She said she would take that as a compliment.

#2 - Myrna
Myrna was not home. I left her a voicemail explaining that she is number 2 on my list. Please call me.

#3 - Kirsi
Also not home. Left a voicemail.

#4 - Cathy
Cathy is the one who I predicted as the surprise owner of a hip flask. She is the nicest, kindest, most wonderful person I know, so good in all ways. But sometimes she surprises you with what she knows. Cathy was not home. Her son told me that she was out for the evening with her Mom, who is visiting from Prince Edward Island. I phoned Cathy's cell phone and left a voicemail asking if she has a hip flask.

#5 - Cynthia (Cathy's Mom from PEI)
I added in my voicemail that if Cathy doesn't have one, maybe Cynthia does. You never know.

#6 - Kathy
Kathy went to school with Michele and me. She told me that she doesn't have a hip flask, but maybe her husband does. She asked him and he said no, he does not have a hip flask.

All this time, Andy is telling me I don't need to phone around, because I can get a hip flask at the dollar store. He's seen them there. Fiona tells me I don't need to phone around because I can get a hip flask at the costume store also.

Ok, okay, I know. I'm having fun with this, so let me phone.

About this time I post a new status line on facebook.

I need to borrow a hip flask for the dead poets' slam on Monday at Cafe Deux Soleils - so far none of my friends have one (or at least they won't tell me they have one).

I'm waiting for someone to call me back, and in the meantime loading the dishwasher and baking a birthday cake for my mom (who I am sure does NOT have a hip flask), when the doorbell rings. It's Rhonda, from next door, and she has a hip flask to loan me. It's her husband Chris's hip flask. Thank you Rhonda and Chris!

#4 - Cathy (continued)
Later, I get an email and a facebook comment from Cathy. She has a hip flask for me. She and her husband found it while they were cleaning out a cupboard. I won't go into the details, but it seems like it's something left behind by someone not in their family. Cathy assures me that it is not Cynthia's hip flask (darn, that would have been good if it was). So anyway, now I have 2 hip flasks.

#3 - Kirsi (continued)
About 7:30 the next morning, my phone rings. It's Kirsi. Right away when I answer, she says, "I have always thought it would be very convenient to have a hip flask. That way when I'm out somewhere and I need a drink, I don't have to find a bar." Kirsi has the right idea, but she does not have a hip flask.

#2 - Myrna (continued)
Myrna leaves me a voicemail at suppertime to say that she does not have a hip flask, but she did give one to her friend Cheryl as a gift. If Cheryl still has it, Myrna will ask if I can borrow it. So maybe I have 3 hip flasks.

question: who would you call to borrow a hip flask?

mompoet - drat! I missed Karen! I bet she has one too.