Tuesday, March 30, 2010

waiting for the bread machine haiku

surely heaven is
warm and brown and fragrant, topped
with strawberry jam

question: what is your breakfast today?

mompoet - waking up to a whole grain miracle

Monday, March 29, 2010

upon perceiving

some are almost exactly as you expect them
round, light brown, symmetrical
you could cup three or four easily in your palm

some are variations on a familiar theme
morphed in size, proportion or colour - still recognizable
story book illustrations of domestic objects

then, there are ones so strange
their forms defy reckoning; just thinking about them
you are cut loose from all certainty

even now, your face is dear to me

question: what is new and unusual for you?

mompoet - perceiving

Sunday, March 28, 2010

the new smart

I like to think of myself as smart. I did well in school. I know lots of things. Understanding, imagining and remembering are activities that I enjoy. I am good at using my brain. People often tell me, " you are one of the smartest people I know."

Lately, I've noticed that the word smart isn't just for brainiacs and trivia-knowers any more. Suddenly, everything good is "smart." It's not subtle. Smart has become the prefix of choice, denoting anything that is "what you want now." We all want to be smart, so it's smart to have things that are "smart."

I was walking home from work the other day (smart for the environment and for my fitness level), when I was almost run over by a smart car, being driven by a dumb driver. Those smart cars aren't as big as our old stupid cars, but it still smarts when they hit you. I'm glad that driver missed.

I was a bit shaken up, so I thought I'd phone my husband to tell him what just happened. Trouble is, I left my new smart phone at home. "Never mind," I thought, "he's probably not home yet anyway." Even though everyone at his office took a seminar about how to "work smarter, not harder," he's still working longer days than I am. He says he's worried that his company is getting ready for downsizing - only they now call it smartsizing. Maybe it's smart for the company, but for the employees it's "fire smarter, cry harder."

Speaking of smartsizing, have you seen the new menu at McDonalds? Say I order a burger, soft drink and fries. The guy at the counter will now ask me, "Would you like to smartsize that?" If I say yes, he gives me a banana and a glass of water, charges me $6.95, and tells me to "have an intelligent day."

Intelligence is everywhere. There are little computers in my car, my refrigerator, my furnace, even my toilet. Everything has sensors and regulating programs, all powered by "smart technology." This, to me, is a relief. Look at the mess our world is in today, from our reliance on idiot technology. It's about time someone invented some smart technology. It's also good to know that it's the technology that's smart or not smart, instead of the people who invent or use it.

The best part is that now we don't have to work hard to get smart. I remember when smart came from experience and effort. We got smart by going to school, reading books, performing experiments and investigations and interacting with other smart people. Now we just go buy smart at the shopping mall. Bring your debit or credit card (with the latest smart chip ID technology) and it's easy to own your own piece of smart (that is, unless you forget your PIN number - that's not smart at all).

But don't worry about forgetting. We have vitamins, electronic games and special oxygenated water (imagine, H2O with oxygen added - what an innovation!) all guaranteed to improve your memory (or at least slow down your forgetting). I'll have to find out more about that and get back to you. I just have to go pay someone to look up the facts for me first. Now that's smart.

question: what does smart mean to you?

mompoet - still smart and smiling

Friday, March 26, 2010

delegation (a prayer)

Dear God, please bless and protect these people whose names I list now. Heal their illness, keep them safe on their journeys, help them weather the storms through which they pass. Help me to love and care for those who I take as my own to love and care for. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Dear husband, please take this list into your care. On your way home, please buy eggs, milk, bread and broccoli (2 bunches). Pick up our daughter from rehearsal and deliver her to dance class. Help me to love and care for those who I take as my own to love and care for, as I love and care for you, xox.

Dear children, please pack some of this banana bread in your lunches today. There are nice apples in the bowl on the table too. Assemble for yourselves healthy meals to help you go through the day with energy and happiness. Help me to love and care for you, who I take as my own to love and care for. Hugs, Mom.

Dear self, please remember to take these books back to the library, and pack your shoes for the gym at lunch. Get some of that banana bread, for it will surely be gone by the time you return. Pack an apple and drink your water. Care for yourself so that you may care for those who you choose to love. Love yourself and your life, so that you may do these things with joy. In the name of all great blessings and small wonders, Amen.

question: what's your prayer?

mompoet - trusting

Thursday, March 25, 2010

just me

I woke up the other morning at 5:30, my usual time. It was dark. Andy was still asleep. It was cold. I reached, in the dark, for something warm to wear and found my sloppy grey sweatpants - perfect for 5:30 in the morning. I put them on and stepped quietly out of the bedroom. The hallway and stairs were dark too. Never mind. I'll put the light on in the kitchen.

On my way down it occurred to me, I must be gaining weight. I must have gained a lot of weight - gosh! These sweat pants are really tight! There used to be tons of room in "the bucket" because I bought them before I lost all this weight.

Wait. I get downstairs and see I have them on backwards. No room in the rear, but a kangaroo pouch in the front. Turn the pants around. Problem solved. Just me.

question: are you sharp as a tack when you wake up?

mompoet - more of a butter knife until I get my coffee

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the difference

A dog, wanting a particular spot on her face rubbed after consuming the morning meal, would not take the long way around the table. She would not pause, tail curling, to consider if a scratch on the chin would be worth the effort of approach. The spiral spine of your notebook would not catch her fang as she showed you how, where, this much. When you moved the book aside, she would not make pizza in your lap (her paws not kneading in that peculiar manner of tentative possessiveness). A dog, all shambling bee-line and tropical grin, would nudge her sweet snout between you and your book and say, "Howdy, give me some love."

question - have you noticed the difference?

mompoet - missing one, loving both

Monday, March 22, 2010

salpingo (a writing exercise)

a Mediterranean soup made with tomatoes and sardines in a light broth

a nervous disorder, characterized by auditory hallucinations

a 19th century Mexican art movement

a deviated bamboo fiber stocking, designed to be worn with flip-flop sandals

a colourful shore bird native to the Florida coast

a burning rash caused by an allergy

a style of dance music played at celebrations in Argentina

a prayer cycle, observed by indigenous people of the southwestern US, for 14 days around the spring equinox

a drinking game, popular in the 1960s, played with forks, corks and poker chips

a new flavour of salsa

a scientific term denoting the echo sound of radar when it returns to the sender

question: do you know salpingo?

mompoet - I want to go invent the game now

Sunday, March 21, 2010

bad product/good product

last of winter, first of spring

It turned into spring about 10:45am on Saturday. Near the time for change I realised that I was seeing the winter out with a cycle class. This was a good choice, I thought. I spent an hour in a darkened studio with 20 other people on stationary bikes, music pumping loud, pushing through an hour of intense work and sweat. We could have been anywhere at any time of year, but it felt tropical. It was a great class. I love the Saturday morning spin to kick off the weekend. Goodbye winter!

When I got home I showered, then asked Andy to start the spring with me by going for a walk. We needed to stay close to home so we could catch Fi and her friends at the Skytrain and get them to the latter part of a rehearsal in Port Moody. We walked up and down St. Johns Street. It's always interesting to look at the shop windows and see who else is out walking. We stopped at Smile and Shine Florist to pick up flowers for Fiona's closing night in Little Shop of Horrors. Along the boulevard, gorgeous white cherry blossoms made a beautiful canopy outside of the shop doors. It was a lovely stroll.

At home, before supper, we carried the patio furniture up from the basement and set it out on the deck. A couple of pieces needed to be hauled up with a rope because they don't fit through the inside of the house, but that's kind of fun, and another way of marking the change in season.

We sat on the deck in the late afternoon and remarked on the warm breeze and the scents of spring. Even though rain is predicted for Sunday, we'll cook barbeque for supper.

Goodbye winter, hello spring!

question: how did you mark the equinox?

mompoet - walk, pedal, work, rest

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

vegetarian fruit juice

A friend loaned me a couple of copies of Clean Eating Magazine. I read them, and noticed that the recipes and articles were great, but they had some ads that made me ponder - a fair number of ads for nutritional supplements and processed cereals and bars, seemingly at odds with the philosophy of the publication, which focuses on foods made whole, fresh and simple.

The funniest ad I found (or so I thought) was for "vegetarian fruit juice." "HA HA!" I thought, "enough of that pork and turkey fruit juice I have been drinking up until now." While I am not a vegetarian, I was perplexed. How could one fruit juice be more vegetarian than another?

Last night I did a bit of googling, and found out that many fruit juices do contain animal products. I couldn't locate an article, but the topic is discussed on lots of eating forums like this one. Now, I don't normally read eating forums (eating forums!?!) but the information sounds plausible anyway. I don't actually drink juice, preferring to chew my fruit, but I do find this info enlightening, and I guess I have to stop laughing at ads for vegetarian fruit juice now.

question: do you like your orange juice with bug dye, fish oil, sheep vitamin and marrow clarifying agent?

mompoet - eat a banana, ok?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

dead poets' slam

I didn't realise this was up on youtube - recorded at the Dead Poet's Slam at the Vancouver Poetry Slam in October.

Thanks wnsbt, you rock

not "little shop of sweet sentiments and precious platitudes"

Fiona's school musical opened this weekend. It's Little Shop of Horrors - a tale of greed, lust and inter-planetary botanical horror. In short, a perfect vehicle for budding teen-age talent. Fiona plays Audrey, the flower shop assistant who considers herself not worthy of a nice guy like Seymour, who works with her for shop owner Mr. Mushnik. On the day that Mushnik decides to pack it in and close his unsuccessful business, Seymour puts his newest strange plant, named "Audrey Two" in the window, and everything changes. The story is a Faust legend, set in 1950s skid row squalor. Seymour trades his morality for fame, fortune and love, with predictably disastrous consequences. Carrying the tale along is a trio of "Doo-wop" girls, an assortment of skid row residents, and Audrey's boyfriend, a sadistic dentist with an addiction to nitrous oxide.

The Heritage Woods Secondary performance is a big bowlful of black humour fun. Central to the story is a people-eating plant, played and given voice in its various shapes and sizes by student actors who operate an amazing set of plant puppets. There's a student orchestra and student stage crew and student theatre techs. Under the direction of their amazing acting and music teachers, Shanda Walters (director) and Ingrid Gay (musical director) they bring this story to life in all of its grimy and grizzly wonderful horribleness. I'm biased of course, being mom to one of the performers, and knowing a lot of the students who are in it, but I'm sure even if I knew nobody in it, I'd love this show. Ms Walters picked the right play for this year's musical theatre class, with bang-on casting for shy Seymour, the insane dentist and the enigmatic Mr. Mushnik (played with chutzpah by a girl, but you don't figure this our for the first few minutes she's so good). As for Audrey, I have to say that it made me feel uncomfortable to see my daughter dressed up in tall heels and a tight skirt, being pushed around by a cruel boyfriend, then eaten by a plant, but that's theatre, not real life, so I can handle it. The set is dark and weird, costuming is quirky and convincing, and the music is great. We're blessed at Heritage with some awesome musicians and singers, and Ms. Gay brings out the best of their talents.

Fiona sings two very tender songs, both of which made me cry, except that in the reprise of "Somewhere that's Green," I was also laughing my head off at the same time, because it's just so darn silly and improbable. My neighbours caught me laughing as my blood-stained daughter was being eaten by the plant. They reassured me that I am still a good mother, even so.

If you get a chance to go see this show, you will be not be disappointed. There are 3 more performances: March 17 at 4pm, and 18th, 19th and 20th at 7:30, all at Heritage Woods Secondary. Tix are available at the door, $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Not suitable for younger children, or people who have been traumatized by bad experiences with Venus Fly Traps.

question: does that guy look like plant food to you?

mompoet - laughing and crying (and proud)

Friday, March 12, 2010

on call

I am call this week for emergency social services, and I got my first call. I have been somewhat anxious, anticipating this, despite assurances from my team members that they would be there to support me, and that the job is manageable and rewarding.

On Wednesday morning, the emergency coordinator emailed to ask me to find out more info about a fire that had been reported in the news, but not called in to ESS. I phoned a fire chief and an assistant fire chief and asked for details about the incident. The aim was to find out if there was a possibility that their might be follow-up work for us. It turned out that people were evacuated, but they all found shelter with friends and family.

On Thursday afternoon, it was the real thing. I was called to assist a family whose apartment had burned. I was supervised and assisted in my work by an experienced member of the team - someone who I have worked with in other capacities for 30 years. We shared responsibilities and he guided me through the steps. By supper time, we had the family (luckily only one family) safely checked into a hotel, with food vouchers and information about their steps for follow up. The provincial emergency program covers 72 hours of accommodation, food and incidentals as needed. I just wanted to scoop up the people and take them home, thinking about what they must be going through. It was good to be able to help them find a safe haven at least for the short term.

Over the next couple of days I'll be doing follow-up work, checking in with the family, updating the provincial emergency office about the incident, doing a debrief with the team, then filing the paperwork. For a first experience this was a good one. I had a dry run on Wednesday to get me geared up, and I didn't even have to wake up in the middle of the night. I know there will be more complicated and challenging incidents, but I also know that I'm not on my own when I'm on call, and this is do-able. It's also a privilege to be allowed to help in this way.

question: have you been waiting for something new, about to happen?

mompoet - initiated

Thursday, March 11, 2010

moving on down the road

On Sunday, I finished my term as President of Vancouver Poetry House, and resigned from the Board of Directors. I have been a director since we formed our society in 2003. During this time, Poetry House has organized the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and the Individual World Poetry Slam in Vancouver. These 2 large events drew poets and audience from all over North America and built up participation in spoken word art in our city. We created WordPlay, a poetry in schools program that employs poets to run workshops for students, started a youth poetry slam, and organized workshops and special performances. We got 2 Canada Council grants which we used to bring poets to Vancouver to share their art. We also launched a very cool website.

I love Poetry House. I love the friends with whom I have worked - board members and volunteers. I have learned a lot about poetry, running an organization, and how people work together. The experience has been exciting, challenging, triumphant and absurd at various times. Mostly it has been excellent to work with people who share a passion and get energized by making wonderful things happen.

I'm sad to leave now, but know for sure that the timing is right. We have just one short year left as a family of four living all in one house. Fiona will be going away to university after she finishes high school next year. Alex will likely stay for a while longer, but will be beginning his career. Andy and I are making the transition from parents of children to parents of adults, and thinking more about house projects, travel, and the shape our life together will take for the next 25 years. It's possible I may return to my regular job at the end of this year, after 3 years acting in another. At church I continue to be involved in outreach activities, mostly around issues of homelessness in our community. If I was an octopus, with a brain and a heart in each arm, I'd keep Poetry House. Being a person, with one head and one heart, I'm pulling in a bit to have energy and focus for the things that are closest to home.

I'll still come out to the poetry slam, and will try to help with events and projects when I can. In the meantime, Poetry House is going places. It has a board of directors that is skilled, dynamic, and poised to advance our programs to the next level of wonderfulness. It's working in a time of financial restraint, but artistic abundance. The opportunities now for engaging people in art are as great as they have ever been.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to have been involved in PoHouse. I'm sad to say good-bye now, but confident that it's the best choice all around. I look forward to seeing where PoHouse goes. I will remain a member, and an admiring fan.

question: what have you set down?

mompoet - picking up my feet and walking on down the road

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Little Shop of Horrors

Fiona is playing Audrey in Little Shop, which opens next week at Heritage Woods Secondary. It will be horrible and funny and lovely.

question: did you ever have a Venus Fly Trap when you were a kid?

mompoet - the resemblance ends there