Thursday, July 30, 2009

poolside manners

In about 8 days, Andy and I will go to Mexico for a week's vacation, and to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I came across this article about pool and beach etiquette that I found most helpful.

question: did your parents ever tell you that there was a chemical in the pool that would make your pee turn bright blue?

mompoet - living by the rules

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

feature poet

I'm the feature poet this month at the Vancouver Poetry House website. The poem is one I wrote about my recurring fear of losing touch with reality.

I wonder why forgetting triggers fear of dementia? We all forget or get mixed up every day. Sometimes we joke about it, but it I think we do that to mask the fear that this is the first loss of an inevitable downslide into oblivion. Really, most of us may slow down a bit mentally as the years go by, but few of us will lose it totally. So I should stop being worried.

Today I resolve to allow myself to mess up, reverse things, mix up, forget and honestly laugh about it. It's human nature.

question: I forgot the question

mompoet - making art out of human muddlement

Sunday, July 26, 2009

haiku after the thunderstorm

I want to be your
rose splint - brace stem and leaves so
you seek sky once more

question: what is bent and discouraged near you?

mompoet - always the impulse to smooth and straighten

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nelson and Ratty go to Vegas

Cathy, Terry, Wayne and Karen took Nelson and Ratty to Vegas this week. They got home late last night, so both little travelers are still asleep, but Cathy sent us some photos.

more rat vacation pictures

More photos of Nelson and Ratty on their Vegas trip. Looks like they had a spectacular time at the Hoover Dam (if maybe a tad bit dangerous). Thanks again, Cathy, Terry, Karen and Wayne!

Monday, July 20, 2009

up in the sky

If you're lucky enough to live in India or China, you get to see an amazing total solar eclipse on Wednesday. The rest of us can just imagine. Here's the info.

question: can you believe what we see in the sky

mompoet - reassured to be so small in the grand scheme of things

Saturday, July 18, 2009

sad day

Our dog Soleil went to sleep today. We took her to the vet, where she received an injection that slowed her heart and breathing until she died.

We are filled with sadness and miss her terribly, but it was the right thing to do. She has been declining rapidly in the last few days: she has a neuromuscular condition that has taken away her sensation and control in her hind legs. She has been struggling to stand, falling down the stairs, losing bowel and bladder control, and is no longer able to go out for the walks that she loves. She has remained a gentle, patient and loving companion despite it all, so it was very hard to say, "today is the day," but it was.

The vet gave her a sedative to calm her before the injection. She fought it like the stubborn and attentive girl she is, and didn't settle much. Andrew and I sat on the floor with the vet and the assistant, and cradled and stroked Soleil while the euthanizing injection was given. Soleil actually struggled a bit but soon settled down into a deep sleep. Her muscles slackened, and she snored loudly for a couple of minutes, then her eyes opened again, and her breathing ceased. A minute or so after that, her heart stopped beating.

Dr. Maya, the vet gave us big hugs, and assitants Jessie and Carrie were a bit teary. Solly's body will be cremated. We have kept her nametag - a blue bone with her name and our phone number - as a memento.

Soleil came to us as an adult "rescue" dog, picked up as a stray. We have never thought of her as a "rescue" but more accurately as a gift. She lived with us for six and a half years. She was a fine girl. We will miss her very much. Fiona says in heaven-for-dogs there is cheese, peanut butter and blueberry pancakes and all of the dogs sleep on people beds.

question: do you love a furry friend?

mompoet - hug that friend for me today

Ratty the baby rat returns too!

Dear friend Cathy wrote on my facebook wall on Friday:

"Unbelievabley Good News .... Baby Rat has come home too! Susan, you know how bad I felt telling you that Baby Rat had been taken .... I tore my suitcase apart. Terry, took down suitcases for our trip ..... and he found Baby Rat! Somehow he made his way back from Nova Scotia to Port Moody in two years! I wonder if I was so stressed about thinking I lost him that I didn't see him against the black lining ... yet I know we've used the suitcases since! I am elated ... I can only imagine your level of happiness!"

A couple of years ago, Cathy took Nelson and Ratty to the Maritimes for a vacation. On the way home, Ratty disappeared. We thought maybe he defected, or was abducted, or just went on his own Ratty way. Nelson was consoled only by a brief but healing romance with Petunia the albino rat. Now Ratty has returned! Cathy found him in her suitcase when she began packing for a trip to Las Vegas.

Nelson, Ratty and Cathy are so happy they are celebrating. Nelson and Ratty will join Cathy on the trip to Vegas. This is a special treat because I have vowed never to go to Las Vegas. So this is Nelson and Ratty's chance.

Watch for photos from the big giant place in the desert. Thanks Cathy for finding our little baby rat friend, and for taking him and Nelson along with you on your vacation. Thanks also to Terry, Karen and Wayne who will share hospitality with our little rodent friends. (hint: don't let them near the slot machines!)

question: what do you think happened to baby rat? was he in the suitcase all this time, or is the story more interesting?

mompoet - reunited

international space station (and shuttle) sighting

Fiona and I were walking down the fire road in the dark a little after 10:30pm last night, when we saw a bright light crossing the sky overhead. It was up too high to be an airplane, and too bright to be a typical satellite sighting. It was as if 1 and a half Venus's were arcing across the sky at a good clip. Standing in the road, surrounded by tall trees, we could see it for a little more than a minute, then it disappeared from view. I remembered hearing an astronomer on the radio earlier in the day, saying that the space station, with the shuttle docked, would be visible in the night sky. I wondered if that's what it was.

I looked it up on the NASA website, and sure enough, that's what we saw. Here's a link to find space station/shuttle sightings in the next few days.

question: is it a bird?

mompoet - drawn to the big big beyond

Friday, July 17, 2009

runpee for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

It's summer. It's hot outside, tempting a jumbo soft drink when you arrive at the theatre. The lineups are long, and the new Harry Potter movie is even longer. It's no wonder you might need to step out for a few minutes before the end of the movie. is a website that gives movie viewers suggestions about the best time to run to the bathroom in the middle of a movie.

For Harry Potter, it suggests one of the few scenes in which Hagrid appears, so I disagree (being a total fan of Hagrid). Having seen the movie and unscrambled the synopsis of the scene, I do agree that it is a weak scene - I mean, it involved spider venom AND Hagrid, so it could have been great, but instead it limped along. However, I do think that they could have chosen one of the many scenes of pining, lovesick adolescent wizards, which are (I think) longer, and significantly more repetitive. A couple of other suggestions are given, for times earlier in the movie. You could unscramble these without spoiling the movie and decide which you would choose. I guess it depends on what you like/dislike most in Harry Potter movies. For me, Hagrid is the parmesan cheese on the big doughball of a story.

Anyway, runpee is a good resource if you tend to need to step out, and if you remember to look at it before you go to the theatre. I suppose you could look it up on your iPhone or whatever while you sit in that long line, also.

question: have you seen the new Harry Potter?

mompoet: I waited until after the credits, then ran out the door

Thursday, July 16, 2009

just exactly why I love my job so much

These are the people with whom I work everyday, featured on a news show from earlier this week.

Just scroll down to the story about Cameron Seniors staying in shape. This is where I work, and the people who make my days a delight.

question: who do you look forward to seeing at work?

mompoet - lucky, lucky, lucky

in other news

I survived "back to work." Luckily, I love work.

Soleil, the dog, is still with us but a little bit less each day.

Just a little over 3 weeks until Mexico.

Alex and I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince last night - huge crowds, pretty good movie. Not my favourite, but glad I saw it.

The bus driver has switched radio stations fully and completely. (yay)

The sun is shining this morning.

I have to go to computer training again this morning. I dreamed about cheerios. I guess that's a good idea - gotta go!

question: what snoo with you?

mompoet - mid-week and okay

summer wood trail haiku

Melanie thought I
was the bear on the path, we
laughed huckleberries

question: what/who is lumbering along on your wood trail?

mompoet - summer is wild!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nelson's great weekend

Nelson is happy to be home. He had some fun with us this weekend. He accompanied Dad and me on a walk along the Burnaby Lake trail, and shared a sushi lunch with us (Dad's belated Father's Day treat from me). Later, Nelson joined the Shoreline chapbook group for supper and a meeting at Helmi and Fred's place in Whonnock. On Saturday, he shopped at the Richmond Night Market with some silly girls.

I think Nelson leads a rat's life, which appears to be a most excellent life indeed.

question: If you were a rat, where would you like to go? and with whom?

mompoet - happy to be with my little ratty friend

Saturday, July 11, 2009

the boys inside

On Thursday evening I attended a screening of the film The Boy Inside, followed by a panel discussion about Asperger Syndrome. The panel was made of up 6 adolescent boys (13 to 17 years old) who all have Asperger Syndrome. The audience was filled with teachers, special ed assistants, other helping profession people and families and friends of children with disorders from the autism spectrum.

The film was very moving, and the panel was funny, real and revealing. There was a time for us to talk to others around us in the audience. I shared the love, hope and fear felt by all of these people (I think about 800 attended) for the kids they know who have Asperger or autism.

I have heard that autism is on the rise all over the world. I wonder if this is true, or if we are just diagnosing more people as having autism these days. Thursday's panel was a demonstration that even within one area of diagnosis, there are more differences than similarities among people so diagnosed. The boys have things in common but their experiences of living with Asperger are all as different at their personalities and circumstances.

I left with lots of questions, but also a better appreciation for the lives of those who are diagnosed as having autism, and more love for their families and friends. If you get a chance to see this film or participate in a forum about Asperger or autism, it's well worth it.

question: how different do you have to be to be diagnosably different?

mompoet - aching love

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Nelson returns Part 1

Nelson returns - part 2

did I dream it? or was it real?

I can't find it on youtube, which leads me to doubt my own conviction that it was not a hallucination seen in a moment of head cold induced delerium. Here's what I thought I saw:

Homer Simpson sneaks into a Sleazy Hotel (that's what the hotel is called) with a woman in a hat and fur coat. Inside the hotel room, he drops the clothing to the floor to reveal that he has actually disguised a whole skewer of donair meat as a woman. It's a 30 lb chunk of gooey, greasy, drippy meat, which he proceeds to nuzzle, snuggle and devour. There's a montage of scenes of Homer and the donair in the hotel room - on the bed, on the floor, in the shower - with Homer guzzling the donair the whole time.

Has anyone else seen this? Did I imagine it? I hope not - it was tremendously funny.

question: have you seen the Homer Simpson hotel room donair scene?

mompoet - just wondering

summer cold

The worst time to have a cold is during wonderfully warm, sunny weather. While snuffling and snorfling and feeling chills and sweats, I prefer to look out the window and see grey and rain and blowy wind - snotty weather just like the way I am feeling. So it's kind of good that I'm on vacation at home, and I caught a cold and it rained on the days that I had a cold. But not that good, because Andy's on vacation too, and he's missing having fun with me, and also going to the beach in the sun, which is what he likes to do when he is on vacation.

So far we have coped with the weather and my cold by doing the relaxing/errand/hanging out things that are good to do on vacation. I spent most of Monday (my sickest day) working on the order of service for this coming Sunday at church, when I will fill in for our vacationing minister. I still have to develop a story for the children's time, and write a sermon (doesn't everyone write the sermon on Saturday?) but I've got the rest of the service ready to go - music, prayers etc. Fi and I watched Inkheart on Shaw on Demand video. It was okay, and a good way to slug out on the couch for a while. Alex got a filling in his tooth. Fi had friends over for a sleepover.

Andy has gone out a bit without me, and also spent time with me doing low key things. We bought pesos for our Mexico trip, and shopped for a few vacation items (shorts for him, dresses for me). We also enjoyed a surprise visit from Glasgow cousins, who stopped in for a cup of tea on their way to the airport, and ended up staying for half a day and a family supper. All of these things have towed me along sturdily, out of the murk of cold. We had sandwich making night at the church on Wednesday, and only 4 of my usual crew of 8-10 sandwich-makers were available, so I had to show up, and we power-sliced and turbo-built our 100+ sandwiches. It was hard work, but we got it done, and I drove the sandwiches to the mission in the sunshine this morning. I am feeling better.

Four days left before I return to work. The sun is poking in and out of the clouds. My throat is still a bit scratchy, but my energy is better. Let's let go of the summer cold and bring on the sunshine. I want to walk around the lake tomorrow with Dad (belated Father's Day).

question: what do you do when you have a cold?

mompoet - keeping on keeping on

Sunday, July 05, 2009

summer of the (mostly outside) supper

Andy and I are on vacation for the first 12 days of July. We had planned to go camping, but Soleil, our dog, just isn't up to it, and we don't want to leave her with anyone either. We canceled our campsite and we're enjoying a vacation at home. This is actually very nice. We live in a place to which people come from all over the world for their vacations, and living here, we don't always do all of the things we might do to enjoy our home town.

We have not grand plans - just a day at a time. We're spending time outdoors and doing a lot of supper time getting together with friends.

On Tuesday, we attended a 50th birthday party for our friend Richard. We saw friends from Andy's high school days and friends we have got to know through them. There were lots of growing-up kids there, younger than ours, but so much older than when we last saw them. Richard and his wife Chantal cooked a lovely barbeque supper, and we ate at tables on their patio.

On Wednesday, we celebrated Canada Day with a neighbourhood block party pot luck supper. This is a tradition where we live. Everyone is welcome to join, and we never plan the menu, but somehow, a complete meal shows up (in stages, as people arrive from whatever they've been doing through the day). It was great to sit out on the street with our neighbours who we love, and celebrate Canada's 142nd birthday.

Thursday I think we rested. I know the kids were out (Fiona away in Kelowna at a dance competition, Alex at work). Andy and I had a quiet supper for two on our deck.

On Friday, one of the Ladeez in the 'Hood, Leanne, had us over to her new house. Even if you move away, once a Ladee, you are always so. Leanne served wine on her deck, and presented course after course of "appies" which amounted to a scrumptious gourmet meal. Leanne loves to cook, and we are happy to eat her wonderful creations!

Saturday, we met at Louise's place. Mom and Dad came, and Robin and her family. It was another potluck. Andy operated the barbeque for Louise who had marinated luscious beef skewers, and I took over her kitchen to wok cook all kinds of veggies. Mom brought salad. Robin prepared a decadent chocolate brownie dessert. We ate at Louise's dining room table, nestled in the tall trees of her new North Burnaby home.

Every night included laughter, friendship, and slow eating in good company. Our days are full of sunshine and adventure. Our evenings are small homecomings to communities of people who we love.

So far, this vacation is going great!

question: with whom have you dined lately?

mompoet - blessed to be at the banquet

Thursday, July 02, 2009

vacation anxiety

Maybe it's because I profess never to worry unnecessarily (then add that worrying neither changes the outcome nor improves my coping ability thus rendering it unnecessary always). Maybe it's because I have been said to have a "built in horseshoe." (Good things happen to me with higher frequency than they do for your average person.) Maybe it's because I don't often go away on vacation.

Whatever the reason, I am feeling unspecified, irrational, low-grade anxiety about my upcoming trip. Somehow, something always happens when I go away. It's usually not catastrophic - just upsetting and inconvenient. The kind of things that make for good stories (later). Right now I am wondering, what will happen this time.

Like the time I got stung by the bee on my lip while riding on a roller coaster at Magic Mountain. Never mind that we were riding on Revolution, the historic first inverted roller coaster. I made personal history, feeling the bee venom pump into my face as I rolled over and over and over to the end of the ride. The payoff? With my swollen lower lip, I looked exactly like Angelina Jolie for a few days. Still, it wasn't worth the pain and fear (not to mention how it freaked out the kids, waiting 20 minutes to be attended to by the first aid guy who finally got the stinger out of my lip).

Then there was that camping trip to Osoyoos when the kids were small. In 7 days, we visited the Desert Medical Clinic 3 times: first for Fiona's ear infection (a baby with a fever and a painful ear in a tent in 80 degree weather is no picnic). Then Alex put a pebble inside his ear and was honest enough to tell us. He also told us, with loud screaming and struggling, how uncomfortable it is to have a pebble taken out of your ear with "the long pointy tweezers." (The doctor explained, that the worst part would be the loud crunching sound inside Alex's head as the tweezers grasped and extracted the pebble.) Finally, as we packed up to leave, Alex slammed (and crushed) his finger in the door of the car. We were never so glad to get home as we were after that trip.

Another time in Osoyoos, I got pink eye in BOTH eyes AND a spider bite on my arm and another one on my face. I was just a big itchy, ugly goo-ball for about 5 out of the 7 days we were there. Nice.

I remember, as a kid, on one memorable camping trip with my parents, a tick attached itself to my scalp, and we had to find a doctor to extract it safely.

When I went away to Whidbey Island with my mom, years ago, we got rained inside our tent at campfire time, just before the s'mores. After hastily extinguishing the campfire and stowing our gear in the car and tent and under the picnic tables and climbing into our sleeping bags, we heard the rain stop, and all of the other campers continued to party through the evening. (I bet they ate lots of s'mores.) Then, on the way home, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch and both got horrible food poisoning the next day.

Another time, at Whidbey Island also, our friend Tom got up early and kindly cooked sausages for breakfast for all 9 of us in the group. The trouble is he used the citronella oil instead of cooking oil. Luckily we figured out his mistake before eating the sausages.

There have been other trips that I remember as not so dangerous, but I suspect I may just have suppressed the memories of destruction and devastation as time has passed.

So now, Andy and I are looking forward to a week in the Mayan Riviera in August. I'm wondering, what will happen? It is the edge of hurricane season. That would be exciting! or maybe just a jellyfish sting while swimming in the Caribbean blue waters? (Do they have jellyfish there?) Nothing as banal as travelers' diarreah, I hope. It has to be worthy of a story here later. That's my only requirement.

So we'll go, and I'll calm down, and when it happens I'll probably say, "There! I knew it!" and just laugh really loudly so people worry if I'm okay. And I'll be fine. Better than fine.

question: what's your favourite vacation mishap?

mompoet - waiting for the rubber chicken to drop out of the sky