Sunday, August 28, 2011

hurricane week at university

Fiona and I were scheduled to fly to Newark today, in time for her to check in and do orientation, placement testing and registration at university. Our flight was canceled due to Hurricane Irene, and it took us a couple of days to get new travel arrangements that we hope will get her to school on time.

We'll fly out of Vancouver tomorrow morning on a hoppity-skip journey around the US, spend a night in Charlotte North Carolina, and ride a train from Philadelphia to Newark where Fiona's room mate and her mom will pick us up and drive us to the university. This intricate plan depends on everything working at 4 different airports and one rail line, so we're crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Whatever happens, we'll be on our way, and progressing as best we can.

I'll check in and post a blog after our arrival. From the news on TV and the internet, it looks like many towns in New Jersey have been hit by bad flooding, and power is out all over the place. Charlotte and Richmond (both stops along our way) have also been seriously affected. Please think of us in the next couple of days.

With all this in mind, we're aware that our troubles are minor compared to those of families who have lost loved ones in the storm or experienced damage to their homes and businesses. It's easy to say it could have been worse, but we know for some it is pretty awful even so.

So we'll try to be ready for anything, and travel with patience, curiosity and compassion. It will be a trip to remember for sure.

question: what's left behind after the eye of the storm has passed?

mompoet - counting our blessings and trying to take nothing for granted

Friday, August 26, 2011

it could be heinous - the evil underpants theory

Well, not actually evil underpants. Underpants are inanimate and intention-less. I should say evil underpants sender.

So maybe the underpants are laced with anthrax or they are armed with an underpants bomb or at least the larva of a big, creepy insect. I am safe from the first two hazards if I do not take the wrapper off the underpants. But if it's the third, well, when it hatches, surely it will chew its way through the wrapper, climb up the stairs in the middle of the night, crawl into my ear while I sleep and burrow into my brain. I will become an underpants bug zombie and lurch around with a vacant look in my eyes, and a pair of underpants on my head.

I hope this is not true.

I palpated the package to get a sense of whether it contains anything besides just underpants. I could not feel any lumps or irregularities that might suggest an object hidden inside the underpants.

Maybe the underpants are programmed to activate a hypnotizing hologram. I'll be eating breakfast and the hologram will pop up and hypnotize me and coerce me to commit crimes, like running up and down the street with underpants on my head, switching my neighbours' mail to other people's mail boxes. Petty underpants crime.

Probably none of these scenarios are true, but it's interesting to imagine that they might be so.

question: what is the meaning of these underpants?

mompoet - ginchy-la-la

another possible explanation

In case you missed the original account of my Chinese ebay underpants, please read my post from a couple of days ago. I received a package from China containing a pair of Calvin Klein men's boxer briefs. I didn't order them from anywhere, and I don't know anyone in China, so their origin is a mystery. It's most likely that someone made a shipping label mistake, BUT there are other possibilities.

Possibility #2 - Scam or Robbery

The underpants are a trap or a setup. I will soon receive a letter apologizing for the mistaken delivery and requesting that I return the underpants by mail to the sender. I will also be asked to write a cheque for $10 thousand dollars to assist the sender with liquidating assets from the recent merger of the Chinese Calvin Klein underpants factory with a can opener factory (just wait for the products that come from that place). I will be promised a windfall of $14.7 thousand dollars for my trouble.


I will receive a letter apologizing for the mistaken delivery, and advised to keep the underpants. The letter will contain 4 tickets to the baseball game as a gift in recognition of the confusion that this mistaken delivery has caused. While my family is out at the baseball game, my house will be robbed. The robbers will leave the Calvin Klein underpants but take everything else.

question: do you think these are nefarious Chinese ebay underpants?

mompoet - benign to sinister in 30 seconds

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the simple explanation

Someone in China sells lots of different things on ebay. At some point, someone in my house has ordered something from this seller (like maybe an ipod cover). My name is in the computer database that this person uses to print mailing labels. A week or so ago, someone else ordered underpants. Seller mistakenly clicked on my address to print the mailing label. I have received the underpants in error.

Follow up story. Underpants-orderer is waiting for underpants. When they do not arrive, he/she will contact the seller to inquire about the underpants. Underpants seller will reply that he/she has mailed the underpants in mid-August. Buyer will query again after another week. The underpants still have not arrived. Seller will re-send the underpants, suspicious that buyer is scamming. Buyer will think that seller is pseudo-shady and never order underpants from him/her again.

Alternate follow-up. Seller will realise his/her error and send the replacement underpants immediately. This will be good if he/she gets the address right this time. He/she may contact me to say, "Did you receive the erroneous underpants?" Now that would be interesting. I wonder what I would do.

The underpants remain in my home, original wrapper unopened. I don't have any urge to return post them, partly because it would be expensive, partly because the address is in Chinese characters. A friend pointed out that the postage is probably worth more than the underpants.

question: is the simplest explanation the correct explanation?

mompoet - not always

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

my chinese ebay underpants

On Monday, Fiona phoned me at work to ask if I had ordered anything online. I told her not that I know of, but maybe someone else did, and it came addressed to me because everyone uses my paypal. She said there was a package. I told her it was okay to open it. She said thanks and we ended the call.

A few minutes later, I received a text message:

It's Calvin Klein underpants from China.

I texted back:

men's or women's?

She texted:

Men's boxer shorts.

I texted:

Oh, that explains it. I always order boxer shorts from China on ebay.

When I got home I examined the package and its contents. It's a styrofoam box - two halves with a cavity inside. They were taped together for the mail. The label is mostly in Chinese characters.

I wonder who sent them and why? I have a few theories, but that's a story for another day.

In the meantime...

question: what do you think happened?

mompoet - my chinese ebay underpants are my mysterious wonderment

Saturday, August 06, 2011

quinoa bowl craving

Fiona and I went to the Poetry Slam on Monday. It was her first time, my umpteen bazillionth, but I still put up my hand when host Ms. Spelt asked, "who has never been to a poetry slam?" I think if I didn't do it, I would be lying. We arrived early at the cafe, anticipating a lazy supper. (The men folk were in Las Vegas, eating juicy burgers and watching Penn and Teller make someone's cellphone ring from inside a dead fish.)

We split the yummy big salad with vinaigrette dressing. Fiona ordered the grill cheese sandwich and gave me the pickle (GOOD!). I ordered the quinoa bowl - something I have not seen on the menu before. Things were getting busy at the cafe, but we weren't in a hurry. A few minutes after the server took our order, the manager came to our table and informed me that they were out of quinoa, and asked would I be okay with a rice bowl? I said okay. Now, I do love the cafe, but out of quinoa? Unless they had truly emptied their last big bag of uncooked quinoa, I cannot imagine how this could happen. Quinoa is not Peking Duck. It is a fast cooking grain. If I was a restaurant and I ran out of quinoa, I would bloody cook some more quinoa. But that's me. I am not a restaurant. I am a polite customer, not wanting to hassle anyone for their shortcomings.

The rice bowl and grill cheese come soon after. The server told me that the manager said "Thank you." The rice bowl was good, but I had been looking forward to quinoa, which is not waffles from scratch, or sachertorte, or lobster or fresh cut flowers, or even brown rice but a fast cooking grain that can be prepared in 20 minutes tops. I wondered what was the story, but got an inkling later in the evening, when the cook spontaneously lobbed a raw mushroom from the open kitchen area, hitting a poet while he adjusted the mic stand. It was not a friendly gesture. Perhaps there was a moratorium on cooking any more damn quinoa for the poets and their audience? I still love the cafe, but now, I wonder...

The next night, I got home from work at about 6pm, needing a quick supper. I was still thinking about quinoa, so I cooked some up. It took about 17 minutes. The grilled vegetables took a few minutes longer, but, as they say at the Poetry Slam, "It was WELL worth it."

The Veggies

Cut into bite size pieces enough veggies for however many people are eating. Cut a few more and you'll have some to take for lunch tomorrow. They're good cold or reheated. I used

Japanese eggplant
crimini mushrooms (cut in half)
red bell pepper

Toss the vegetables in olive oil and whatever seasoning you like. I have a pot of fresh rosemary growing on the deck, so that's what I used.

While the veggies are cooking, you can cook the quinoa. Here we go (watch out for flying mushrooms).

The Quinoa

Combine in a pot:

1 cup pre-washed quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
pinch-let of salt

Put the pot on a high-heat burner. When the water boils, stir the quinoa, turn the heat to low, and clamp on a tight lid. Cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take the pot away from the heat, fluff the quinoa (I know you always wanted to be a quinoa fluffer) clamp the lid back on and let it sit for 5 minutes.

The 5 minute waiting time is a good time to pour a glass of pale ale, or a second one if you enjoyed one during the cooking.

When the veggies come off the barbeque, you can toss them with a splash of balsamic vinegar if you want tang. If not, they're good with salt and pepper, because the rosemary and garlic are nice and aromatic all by themselves.

Put some warm quinoa in your bowl. Put some veggies on top of the quinoa. Put a bit of feta or goat cheese on top of the veggies if you eat dairy. Look, the Poetry Slam hasn't even started yet.

This is a yummy combo that can be adapted to whatever veggies you have on hand. If you're barbequeing, just add the tender ones last. You can get a barbeque basket at any good cook-store. If you don't have a barbeque basket, you can stir fry the veggies.

question: what is your current (or constant) craving?

mompoet - a well-nourished cook is a happy cook

Thursday, August 04, 2011


I love every vegetable I have ever tried (so far). At our tiny, overflowing produce store there are still several that are new to me. Kohlrabi is one of them. It's pale green colour and weird shape have never suggested delicousness to me, and I've not seen a lot of recipes for this particular plant. Last week I decided to try it.

An internet search revealed that it's a cruciferous vegetable (related to broccoli, cabbage, brussells sprouts) that tastes "like the stem of broccoli." I bought one, and tried it raw in a salad and cooked with eggs and in a pasta dish. It does taste like broccoli stems, which I happen to LOVE! So now I have a new vegetable, which looks weird, has a funny name, and is delicious.

question - Most descriptions online say that kohlrabi looks "like Sputnik." I wonder how they described it before 1957?


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

robot seals in japan

question: would you like to cuddle a robot seal?

mompoet - antibacterial fur