Friday, February 27, 2009

beauty in the morning

It snowed overnight, and this is what it looked like at the bus stop Thursday morning.

It was cold and crisp all day long. There was just enough snow to look gorgeous, but not to slow up down or be hazardous (at least where we live - I hear it was awful out in the Fraser Valley).

I walked home from work at 4:30, and it was almost all gone, so I'm glad I got this photo in the morning.

question: did you get any snow?

mompoet - saying goodbye (I hope) to winter

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

grammar grudge

People, these days, are saying "never" when they should say, "did not."

"I never called you a hippopotamus today."

"I never ate the last rice krispie square."

or this one, actually heard on the radio:

"Authorities at Vancouver Airport never disciplined any of the staff involved in the tasering incident."

"Never" is for ever, a substantially long time. It is not for a single incident of not doing something, or even a day or a week, or even a year or more. It is for ever.

I wish people would just talk plain like thayre mamas larned them to.

question: why is this word worm stuck in my ear?

mompoet - getting my grumpies out before a happy day

haiku about a country crossover song that I don't like but the fitness teacher keeps playing in the cycle class

Carrie Underwood
demolishing her boyfriend's
car is just plain sad

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mompoet at Thundering Word

On Feb 15 I had the pleasure and honour of featuring at Thundering Word, a wonderful open mic evening at Cafe Montmartre in Vancouver. Here are a couple of photos of hosts Wanda Nowicky and Bill McNamara and me, after the show.

Bill and Wanda are awesome hosts, and their show attracts audience and artists who love an evening of music and words. The night I was there, we saw and heard singers, guitar players, spoken word artists, a banjo player, harmonica player and Jill with her new rock-ulele - an electric ukulele. I had a tremendously lovely evening and even remembered all of the poems and the story that I prepared. The highlight for me was performing my "Dear Valentine" story that I posted here last Valentine's Day. The audience responded so warmly to it I felt like I was walking on air.

Thank you to everyone, friends and family who came out to Vancouver from Burnaby, Port Moody, Pitt Meadows and other great places to see the show. Thank you to my Vancouver poetry friends who came too. I felt surrounded by love. Thank you Bill, Wanda and lovely Diana (Bill's wife) who gave us all treats of her personal warmth as well as Valentine candies to sweeten the evening.

question: do you hear the thunder?

mompoet - walking on air (still)

secretary or chairperson?

I received this email today from my friend Diane:

Hi, Just to let you know that you are the new Secretary for Congregational meetings.
Thanks for standing for that position.

I had to leave our church AGM Sunday before the elections, but I let my name stand. I have agreed to be the secretary for next year's AGM, and for any other special congregational meetings that are called between now and then. It's a small job, but one that needs to be filled. I am happy to be able to help.

I have been secretary for a number of organizations over the years, and I like the role. Recording the proceedings forces me to be very attentive and to think about the most important aspects of the business being conducted. I also get to do a bit of steering if things are getting so murky I can't follow well enough to record. Usually, I'll ask a clarifying question: "So, have we agreed to do XYZ? and who will be taking what actions?" When it works well, I support whoever is facilitating the meeting if that person is struggling to keep order. People may tune out the chair, but they usual stop and be clear and polite if the secretary asks for clarification.

I have also been chairperson/president for a number of groups over the years. I think I'm pretty good at that job. Often I am called to chair or facilitate a meeting at work too. I like the challenge of leading the group through the agenda, making sure people are all heard, helping the conversation to stay on track etc. It's a good feeling to have a friendly, balanced, productive meeting that gets done on time. When a meeting is unruly, emotional, a bit wild, it's also a satisfying challenge to get the group through it. As a facilitator, I like it when I can move the group into a place of effective communication and help a job get done, despite interruptions, distractions and opposing positions. Finding shared interest is an art. I can't say I'm a consensus-builder, but I can usually get a group to find some common ground and work out ways to keep going with whatever it is doing in an honest and authentic manner.

I've been thinking about being a chair and being a secretary. I find chairing emotionally draining. Even a simple meeting filled with agreeable people can be complex to facilitate. It's hard work, and even though I'm good at it, I often leave wondering if I could have done a better job.

When I'm secretary, I'm confident that I can do a really good job every time. I like the supporting role. I like that the secretary helps to lead without being the main person pushing other people toward an orderly conclusion. I like not being responsible for the list of what needs to get done.

I'm stepping down from a couple of my chairing roles in the next year. Maybe I'll be secretary a bit more frequently. It feels like a secretary-ish time for me. When life's busy and complicated, I prefer being able to take a co-pilot seat and make sure everything is seen and noted, with everyone getting good information out of the event. Sometimes I have to chair, and that's okay too - but right now, given the choice, I'll take the minutes.

question: secretary or chairperson?

mompoet - never, ever, treasurer


driving home from work
it was light outside - I love
the way the earth tilts

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I spent the whole day inside my house yesterday (except for driving Fiona to rehearsal, and going out for supper with Andy after staying inside the house all day). I had not cleaned the house in probably 3 weeks. Sure, I did the bathrooms last weekend, and vacuumed the floor the weekend before, and I'd kept the dishes turning around in the dishwasher so we could eat, but that was about it. Nobody here is a clean freak. I'm ambivalent about clean (some say borderline split personality), so most of the time, if it gets done, great! If not, so what?

Sometimes though, it just feels good to muck out. The place feels so much better after I do it, and the doing of it is therapeutic: look, I can impose order on something, even if it's temporary and trivial. Yesterday was such a day. I made a big list on a small piece of paper, sorting tasks by room, and I cleaned and crossed out, cleaned and crossed out.

Now I'm finishing my coffee, getting ready to go to church, and I'm thinking about what got done and what's left to do in the cleaning the house department:

  • The laundry is clean and ready to wear, just so long as you don't mind finding it in the basket and getting dressed in the laundry room.
  • The carpets have been deodorized and vacuumed and the hard floors washed. Look out for the rice krispies on the kitchen floor (a recent addition) while you enjoy your rice krispie square.
  • The stairways are free of clutter. Please look out for the small pile of former clutter at the foot of each person's bed.
  • The sheets have been changed. And there's no deficit or downside to that. Clean sheets are just mmmmmmmm!
  • I didn't clean the bathrooms yet. I think I will do that while Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt sashay around tonight in designer wear at the Oscars. I will wave to them with a toilet brush.
  • The kitchen counters have been cleaned. I am considering making a seed and pasta collage with the stuff I found behind the toaster oven, coffee maker and utensil jar. (by the way, did you notice that we have barely any kitchen counters?)
  • I put new arrangements of bowls and candles and rocks and such out on the coffee table and dining room table. If anyone notices and compliments these, I will kiss him or her.
  • I emptied and cleaned the cat litter box and cleaned up the back yard after the dog and took a big heavy bag of "animal waste" up to the dumpster. Thank you everyone, for not running screaming from the basement while I did this job. Thank you also for not advising me that the odour of cat litter was clinging to my sweater. I have since showered and put the scented clothing through the wash, so it's all good again.
  • I uncluttered the computer desks. Please don't ask me where your cd is, or your connector cord. Maybe it's in that pile of stuff at the foot of your bed.
  • I did not cook anything for anyone all day. Okay, I made egg in a hole for Alex for breakfast, but that's because he's been sick all weekend. Otherwise it was "fend for yourself while I clean." Thank you Andy, for taking me out for supper. It was especially nice to come home to a clean house and light the candles in the lovely new artistic arrangement on the coffee table (hint hint).
  • I just realised how dirty the windows are. This is the only bad thing I can think of that comes with a sunny day. I think I will begin writing a new list.
So there it is. My house is (temporarily) (almost) clean. Today I will not clean it - except for the Angelina toilet scrub some time this evening. I'm off to church and shopping for a light fixture for our downstairs bathroom reno (coming up) then to actually cook Sunday supper.

I will probably clean the house again some time in March, whether it needs it or not.

question: are you a clean machine? a laissez-faire homemaker? or something in between?

mompoet - never quite sure which one I'll be until I wake up and smell the Vim

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I came in to work late on Friday, after taking the dog to the vet. I work at a rec centre, in the area for people 55 years and over - formerly called "seniors" now called "people 55 and over." I love this work. It mostly involves facilitating able and active people as they work together to do community work and have fun together.

I walked into the lounge - a living room coffee bar area. I was greeted by T and R, the two hostesses who serve the coffee Friday mornings, and K, the Treasurer from the Board of Directors. K was finishing his weekly accounting tasks. T and K were chatting with the people in the lounge.

R: Hi Sue - Do you know how to spell "anonymous?"

MP: I think so - you mean the word "anonymous?"

R: No you ninny - the something else "anonymous." What do you think? of course the word!

MP: Sorry, I just thought you might be asking me a trick question.

R: No, I just want you to tell me how you think the word "anonymous" is spelled."

MP: a-n-o-n-y-m-o-u-s

R: Wrong!

K: Wrong!

T: We thought it was spelled that way, but K asked V. V is a very good speller and she said it has 2 "n"s.

MP: Of course it does, one before the o, and the other after.

T: No - two before the o, then another one after, so 3 ns really.

MP: That can't be. I'm a good speller and I'm sure...

At this point, everyone in the lounge starts chiming in about how to spell anonymous, their own spelling ability, good spellers they know, and why there is no dictionary on the bookshelf in the lounge. MP goes out to her office to look up the word on dictionary dot com.

a few minutes later

MP: Here we go: We had it right. V must have been mistaken (show the printed page from dictionary dot com to R, T and K).

T: I knew it.

R: I knew it.

K: Oh well. I just sealed up my letter, so "anonymous" is spelled wrong. That's okay.

MP: You just wrote an anonymous letter?

K: No, I wrote a letter to "Anonymous." Somebody wrote me an anonymous letter so I wrote a letter back and addressed it "Dear Anonymous."

MP: Who would write you an anonymous letter? That's awful! What was it? How do you know where to send the reply?

K: I got this letter about the money collected for the dance next week, asking me to leave some funds in the safe for buying refreshments, but it wasn't signed. So I'm leaving the money in the safe with a note: "Dear Anonymous, here is the money."

MP: Ooops...

K, T and R begin to laugh as MP's face turns red.

MP: I think I forgot to sign the note that I left for you - asking for money for refreshments for the dance.

K, T and R are now killing themselves laughing.

MP: Okay, you can call me "Anonymous" from now on.

question: did you ever send or receive an anonymous note?

mompoet - just did, will try not to in the future - at least I can spell anonymous

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

amazing story

I just finished Misfortune by Wesley Stace. I was gasping and tearing up in the staffroom at work, where I happened to finish it seeing as I have been lugging it around and grabbing reads for the past few days.

I recommend it. Also his second novel By George.

question: how good can a book get?

mompoet - mighty good books, yup

the show

My show on Sunday went really well. I will write a post about it, but I'm waiting to get around some computer limitations that are preventing me from uploading some photos.

stay tuned

too stained

more later

lore mater

that's all for now, said Saul the cow

vote for Kristene and Fred to get the best job in the world

My friends Kristene and Fred are living in the Cook Islands right now, managing a small beach resort. They'll finish their job there later this year, and are hoping to get this dream assignment to live and work on Hamilton Island in Australia.

Please check out their contest entry website page and rate it by filling in the stars where it says "RATE ME" (hint - 5 is best). You can help them win this dream job by giving them stars.

Kristene is also a spectacular short fiction-writer. She's one of the long-distance members of Shoreline Writers Society, and a regular contributor to our chapbooks, even when she's living on the other side of the earth.

vote vote vote!

question: what would be the best job in the world for you?

mompoet - I meant to say that Kristene is a writer of short fiction (not a fiction writer who is short)

Friday, February 13, 2009

valentine's day

Andy and I have decided to skip Valentine supper at a restaurant this year. It's crowded and cliche, and we don't need it this year. We've decided to go out for lunch at a cafe near our house, one that we have been meaning to try out for some time. We'll go together for haircuts in the afternoon (very romantic!) then stay home Valentine's night - maybe get a dvd and curl up with a glass of wine.

We don't exchange gifts either, but we do give each other Valentine cards. I have also bought some little treats for Andy and for the kids. It's nice to get something sweet on Valentine's Day.

I don't know what the kids have planned. I guess I'll find out when the day comes, nothing that I know of yet. I think Alex will be working that evening.

Maybe I will bake some cookies. Other than that, life is already sweet, so I will just try to relax and appreciate it. The next day is a busy one - church, Shoreline Writers, then Thundering Word in the evening.

question: will you do something special for Valentine's Day?

mompoet - looking forward to simplicity and staying close to home

the show

I have been talking to myself everywhere I go for 2 weeks, practising my poems and my story for the 30 minute feature set that I will perform at Thundering Word on the weekend. I have 7 poems (some short and some slam length) and a story getting ready to go. If I had to do it today, I'd be okay. By Sunday, I will be solid. I don't feel terribly nervous because I know, a lot of my friends will be there, and the venue and audience is generally warm, friendly and encouraging. Besides, I love being up on stage, and the luxury of not having to squish into a 3 minute time slot or have points deducted (poetry slam rules), is a real treat. I hope that my set will be a real treat for the audience, and I am looking forward to enjoying the open mic performers who will go up before and after I do.

I will try to get a few photos taken while I'm there, and I'll take some before and after, of the people I know who go there. I'm grateful to Bill and Wanda for inviting me. I'm confident now I can bring a good, entertaining performance to the Thundering Word stage on Sunday.

In case you have missed my emails and facebook messages:

Thundering Word
Sunday Feb 15 8pm (open mic signup at 7:30)
Cafe Montemartre on Main St. near 27th in Vancouver

question: have you ever memorized a poem for recitation?

mompoet - almost ready to go

Monday, February 09, 2009

pajamas - they're out there

Do you remember the blue flannel pajamas that I mailed to my friend Rhonda? and how Rhonda wore them in Egypt? Well, there's an update: Rhonda gave them to her friend Lorna, who took them to Paris and wore them in two of the royal bedrooms at Versailles. Check the pajama blog for the photographs.

question: where will the pajamas go next?

mompoet - all warm and flannelly with delight

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I met Pearl

Pearl Pirie is a poet who lives in Ottawa. I read her food blog and her personal blog regularly. We met in Carol's Friends of the Friendless Marching Band a couple years ago, when Carol invited us (via blog comment) to join this group of bloggers who had few comments but lots of interesting stuff to say. The band agreed to visit one another on "Friendly Friday's" and many of us became friends.

A couple of years later, Carol has taken a break from blogging. I have stayed in touch with Pearl, Imran, Stephen and Daisy.

This week, Pearl came to Vancouver with her husband, Brian. Pearl knows my friend Warren from when he lived in Ottawa too. Pearl read from her chapbook boathouse (pronounced "oath in the boathouse") at Pulp Fiction bookstore. She read some experimental and form poems, demonstrating a love for the intersection of sound and meaning that is poetry. Other poems came from a train trip from Ottawa to Detroit and back, dedicated to writing on the train. These ones were lovely snapshots of the people and sights found along the way. There were other poems too - one that sticks in my head is a recounting of the conversations of relatives brought together at a funeral.

I am so glad that I heard Pearl read, and met her in "3D" as she put it.

question: did you ever know someone for a while, before you met them?

mompoet - the world is small, and we are all connected

Monday, February 02, 2009

mompoet at the montemartre

I'll be the feature performer at the wonderful Thundering Word open mic night at Cafe Montemartre in Vancouver on Sunday February 15. Hosts Wanda Nowicki and Bill McNamara and Bill's lovely wife Diana have invited me to do a 30 minute poem and story set at the show.

I'm super excited, especially after I saw the show last night. The night's feature, sketch duo The Dead Understudies, was hilarious. The open mic was fabulous too. I saw some great musicians and singers and a stand-up comedian before I had to sneak out the door. I wish I could have stayed to the end.

The cafe is an awesome spot too, flavoured like turn-of-the century Paris - very bohemian. I enjoyed a delish chocolate and orange crepe before the show began.

Anyway, here's the promo poster. I'm still giggling about being dubbed a "luscious suburban mom."

question: do you thunder?

mompoet - I hope you'll come to the show

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I am driving my car. It's a school zone. I am driving too fast. The motorcycle police officer motions me to the side of the road. I park next to the high school. It is Whistler Village - no, you can't drive in Whistler Village - it is a high school in Newport Village, in Port Moody.

I feel resigned to getting a ticket. I should not have been driving so fast past a school. But I know it will be expensive. Oh well.

I roll down my window. The police officer looks in and says. "Did you know you have birthday cake on your glasses?"


"Take of your glasses and look," the officer insists. I take them off. They are crusted with white and blue frosting and yellow cake crumbs. I explain that I can still see fine to drive. The officer says I'm getting a ticket for having dirty glasses.

I wake up.

question: birthday cake?

mompoet - not sure what it means