Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry christmas to all

It's Christmas morning and I'm warm and happy, relaxing with my family at home. We ate our traditional breakfast of croissants and home made strawberry jam, and opened the few presents we have under the tree. Now that the kids are grown up, we don't have a lot of presents, preferring to direct our giving to charities that are important to us. Alex's Christmas gift was a new windshield for his car, when the old one cracked two weeks before Christmas. Fiona's was a much-needed new pair of dancing shoes for school. We will open our stockings later today with my parents, when we go to their place for supper.

The lead-up to Christmas was a bit unusual. Fiona's journey home from university was more difficult than planned, with a canceled flight, and a late-evening arrival in Seattle, instead of Vancouver, then a 2 day lag before her luggage arrived. Alex worked a lot at the movie theater. Dreary weather and Christmas season movies make it a busy place this time of year. Still, Fiona and Alex found time for their annual stocking stuffer shopping trip before Christmas.

I had a couple of vacation days at the end of last week, then one day back at work on Saturday, to support an event at the recreation centre. It turned out to be a blessing. After the event, I had a couple of hours to tidy up some projects that otherwise would have dangled into the new year. Now I'm on call for Emergency Social Services over Christmas. This is my first holiday rotation, and I'm hoping that all will be quiet for the firefighters, the families and me!

Andy and I attended Christmas for a Cause, the annual benefit show put on by some young musical theatre artists in our community. Each year they raise funds and awareness for homeless people. This year, they put on a great show and raised over $3 thousand over two nights, which they donated to Union Gospel Mission and First United Church. The music helped us find our Christmas spirit, and it was great connecting with theatre families who we have grown to know and love over many years.

Last night, our family attended Christmas Eve service at our church. This has been our tradition for a dozen years now. We volunteer as greeters, and help with lighting the candles through the church for everyone to sing Silent Night together at the end of the service. After church we popped over to our neighbours' house for a visit, drinks and laughter. Over the years, the kids, who used to play in the basement, have grown up and migrated upstairs to join the adult conversation. It's the one time every year that we see them all together, and that's very nice.

I baked pumpkin pies last night (one for tonight, one for the neighbours' last night). Today I will make some spinach ball appetizers, and Andy will make his mashed potato casserole to take over to my parents' place. That's all we have to do. I think we'll watch It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street before we go out. The tree it lit, the house is warm and fragrant with good food smells. The cat is enjoying her Christmas treat: "finicky eater hairball kitty snacks." All is well.

question: what makes your Christmas bright?

mompoet - happy at home

Friday, December 21, 2012

why firefighters and police officers are among my absolutely favourite people in the world

question: this is good - no question!

mompoet - grateful for good people in the world

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

a cold front went a little bit crazy, the snow came in from off the coast, and everyone fell fast and thick

Last night it hailed. Buckets of pea-sized hail balls fell for about 30 minutes. There was also lightning. It was a wild night, briefly. Then it stopped hailing and resumed drizzly raining and acted all normal for December in the Pacific Northwest.

I woke up in the morning to see fluffy white dandruff drifting from the sky. It had that surprised look that the first snow of the season often has: "What? me? snow? Nahhhhhh! not really... well, maybe." I watched it falling in the dark and thought, "I'm not driving today." A tiny bit of me felt like I was being too cautious, but I really prefer not to drive when it snows. We live on a steep hill, and even if you can get out and off to work, getting back up the hill to home 9 hours later is frequently another story altogether.

So I put on my Gore-Tex and my hiking boot hybrids, and my baseball cap, and because it is nearly mid-winter and still dark at 7:30am, I clipped and velcroed on a variety of reflective and luminescent doo-dads to help make myself visible in the darkness and the thick wafting snow. Instead of a nearly invisible shadow person, I looked like something driving around on the tarmac at the airport.

Walking up the hill, I kicked at least 5 inches of snow out from in front of my boots with each step. It was really piling up. I reached up and noticed that the LED light on the visor of my ball cap was covered up with snow already, just 10 minutes into my one hour walk. I brushed it off and continued walking. It was actually really nice out. The snow was deep but light and everything was transformed by a marshmallow puffy coating.

A lot of people were standing at the bus stop. I walked past them, and wondered how the buses were doing. Lots of people take transit instead of their cars when it snows. Pretty soon I came across a bus that was empty and parked on the side of the road, hazard lights flashing, on a very gentle hill. A little further on, two other buses were stuck on another gradual slope. I think the roads were very slippery for vehicles. Cars seemed to be making it through, but the buses were just stuck.

Along the way, I saw a family tumbling out of the front door of their house. I imagined what each person was thinking. The Dad was grumbling about having to drive his kids to school and wife to work in what was sure to be awful traffic, and wondering whether he should have done a better job scraping the driveway. The kids were thinking SNOW! and looking for the deepest drift to plunge into, face down. The Mom was worried about whether they would all make it safely to their destinations, and hoping that everyone had properly packed their lunches, books and gear in the mad rush to get out the door. She had a sinking feeling that this was going to be a long and stressful day.

I was even more grateful to be able to walk to work when I got up to North Road, a busy arterial route. The snow had fallen so quickly there that is was not melting under the rush hour traffic. Instead, it was mashed down into an icy compressed pack, about an inch thick on the road. Drivers were inching along, partly out of caution, and partly because of congestion (traffic, not nasal). I churned my way past them on the still fluffy sidewalk. At one point, the traffic bottlenecked from 2 lanes down to one. The weight of the snow had brought down an old tree. It leaned across a fence and out over the right lane, hanging too low for cars to pass under it. I crouched and scrambled under it, then stopped walking for a moment, and phoned the police to let them know about the problem.

By the time I got to work I was really happy to be walking. Everything looked so beautiful, and everyone who was walking looked happy to be out on such a white shiny morning. Lots of people were out with their dogs, and the dogs were ecstatic. All of the dogs were thinking: SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! Dogs have a wonderful outlook on life. We should all be more like dogs.

The parking lot at my work was nearly empty at 9am, and it had not yet been plowed, so I wrote a big message on its snowy expanse, by shuffling around in my boots, forming a word 15 feet tall and 30 feet wide, before I went inside to work. The message was in dog. It said SNOW.

question: how did you manage with the weather today?

mompoet - SNOW!

Monday, December 17, 2012

merry babblefish

And now for a Christmas song, translated and re-constituted for your entertainment.

We begin with John Lennon's iconic Christmas song, Happy Christmas (War is Over):

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? 
Another year over, and a new one just begun. 
And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun,
The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.

Translated into Bulgarian, using google translate, it looks like this:

Така че това е Коледа и какво си направил?  
Още една година, и нова току-що започна.  
И така, това е Коледа. Надявам се да се забавлявате. 
Близките и скъпи, старите и младите хора.

Translate the Bulgarian to Danish and it looks like this:

Så dette er jul og hvad har du gjort? 
Endnu et år og en ny lige begyndt.  
Og så det er jul. Håber du nyder.  
Nære og kære, gamle og unge.

And now, getting closer to the North Pole, we translate to Icelandic:

SA dette Er Júlí Og hvad Har du gjort?  
Endnu et Ar Og en NY lige begyndt.  
Og sa Det Er Júlí Haber du nyder.  
Nære Og kære, Gamle Og unge.

Hmmm, looks remarkably similar. Let's go far away to Indonesia:

SA dette Julian Dan apa Har du dilakukan?  
Endnu et AR dan NY Lige begyndt.  
Dan melihat Det Julian Haber du nyder.  
Nære Dan kære, Gamle dan remaja.

and now back to English:

SA dette Julian And what Har du done?  
Endnu et AR and NY Lige begyndt.  
And seeing Julian Haber Det du nyder.  
Nære And kære, Gamle and adolescents. 

question: it's the same, isn't it?

mompoet - Merry Christmas everyone, gamle and adolescents. 
ps... have you seen Julian Haber Det? If so tell him his nyder is du today.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

my swarmjam christmas list

My Swarmjam Christmas List

Now you may have heard of Groupon – that online group deal site
With restaurant meals, and tours and spas, every frugal elf's delight
With daily email offerings for budgets loose and tight...
But Groupon's not where Santa shops to get his gift list right.

Santa shops at Swarmjam. It's Groupon's tacky cousin.
Swamjam emails daily too, with gifties by the dozen.
So if you know a person who has everything already,
Subscribe to Swarmjam for a stream of junkie gifts most steady.

If your mother's ears are cold, she won't think that you're a meanie
Go to Swarmjam for a cute and cozy stereo headphone beanie.

And thinking of your mother, if she's got whiskers like most geezers
Help with her grooming with some automatic tweezers.

Please don't forget your father! Send away his Christmas blues
With some vegan eco-friendly organic walking shoes.

Your husband will be ecstatic, and surely laugh and beam
At cookies with the logo of his favourite sports team.

Or, if your wife is one for glamour, but her wardrobe is a mess
Give temporary eye-rock crystals (OUCH!) and a bikini wrap-up dress.

And when you stuff her stocking, she won't complain at all
About coloured hair extensions and a cool bra-washing ball.

The kids want touchscreen leather gloves, and they will jump with glee
At self-sanitizing toothbrushes, powered by LED.

Now don't forget the family dog – you know what he likes:
At Swarmjam you can sign him up for dog adventure hikes.

A memory foam bath mat, will help your family feel refreshed,
While whole body vibration treatments will make them happy-fleshed.

And if in fact you're Jewish, and you're sick of giving gelt
Why not go to Swarmjam for a nifty silicone belt? (in your choice of 8 neon colours).

Yes, Santa shops at Swarmjam, to keep our spirits lifted.
Those Swarmjam gifts are gifts most likely gifts that are re-gifted.
Yes, buy your gifts at Swarmjam, and you'll soon say, “This is living.”
The gifts you'll buy on Swarmjam are the gifts that keep on giving.

*No gifts were actually purchased on Swarmjam in the making of this poem.

question: who in the world needs 30 days of raspberry ketone pills and a furminator pet grooming brush?

mompoet - maybe I will buy the at home sushi roller

Friday, December 14, 2012

what can I do? what can I say?

Sitting here thinking about the awful, horrible killings at the school in Connecticut, I'm not sure what I should say in my blog today. By the time you read this, you will probably already have heard enough information and opinion to fill you up with the sadness and anger and hopelessness that we surely all must feel about what has happened.

I guess all I can offer is a suggestion that times of sadness are also times of goodness and compassion. When the world looks grim, it sometimes helps to do something good, and to recognize the good that others do. This does not undo the harm, but it helps restore a balanced impression of what-all is going on in the world.

Also, we have to take better care of our friends and relatives and strangers who struggle with mental illness. And we need to give up the idea that everyone having a gun makes us safer. Clearly, it does not.

In the meantime, kindness and hope, compassion and appreciation. Hug your kids of course, but also reach out to the odd and the friendless in whatever way you can. You might be saving someone from destructive desperation, who knows?

And now for a video of some people saving a humpback whale.

And information about a good place to buy your Christmas tree this year.

Love and prayers to those who have lost lost ones today. Love and prayers also to those who are lost inside their own lives. Love and prayers to whales and children and Christmas trees. The world needs a hug today.

question: why?

mompoet - I don't know

Thursday, December 13, 2012

wearing pajamas to work

On Wednesday morning, I showed up at work in my pajamas. I have gone to work before in pajamas, but this time it was really a high profile wearing of pajamas at work. This time, it was our department director's annual Christmas meeting, at the Rowing Pavilion, with about 250 invited employees.

It all began last Christmas. Another recreation centre staff team showed up to the annual Christmas meeting wearing tacky Christmas sweaters. Everyone was impressed by how awful and creative and cohesive they looked. This year, when the invitations to the meeting arrived, our boss said, "Remember those Christmas sweaters last year? Should we do something like that?" Well, our conversation began with Santa hats and Christmas ties (lame) to reindeer antlers (boring) to something more adventurous. We decided to carry our signature sock monkeys with us, because the sock monkey has become the unofficial mascot of our rec centre. We decided that the only appropriate attire for people carrying sock monkeys is pajamas.

Meeting time was 9am, with coffee from 9 to 9:30, then business beginning at 9:30. Our boss arrived at 20 minutes before 9, and was the only one there wearing pajamas for the first 15 minutes. She was sweating, and wondering if maybe we had pulled a prank on her. Of course we did not! Each of us arrived, all wearing pajamas, slippers and robes, and carrying sock monkeys. We all sat together, which made a better impact. There were 8 of us there, all cozy and snuggly in our pajamas, seated directly in front of the Director, who was wearing a suit and tie.

Wearing pajamas to work is kind of like jumping into a swimming pool. There's apprehension, then reluctance as you approach the side of the pool, then it's uncomfortable when you first jump in, but before you know it, it feels great. We got all kinds of compliment on our appearance, and our guts, for doing this. Lots of people said they wished they were wearing pajamas because we all looked so happy and comfortable. Some people thought we were nuts. That's okay too.

The Director ignored our pajamas at first, then made a reference to them after the break. Someone asked him if he would wear a fuzzy onesy to next year's Christmas meeting and he said no, with great certainty. Oh well.

If you have never worn pajamas to work, please consider doing so. I know not everyone is allowed do this, but if you can find a way, you will be very glad.

question: what's the weirdest thing you ever wore to work?

mompoet - come on in - the water's fine!

our house made the front page of the newspaper

What gingerbread dreams are made of

Our gingerbread house, that is! We also received a huge prize basket stuffed with an interesting assortment of items which I will describe in another post. It includes passes to the Vancouver Folk Festival, candy and hand sanitizers.

question: did you ever write a headline in frosting?

mompoet - SWEET!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I subscribe to Groupon and Swarmjam. Both companies send me a daily email, offering online deals on goods and services. I have bought a few Groupon deals and have really enjoyed them: dance classes (for Fiona), restaurant meals, admissions to attractions, and even kayaking sessions. I have not bought anything from Swarmjam, but I love looking at their emails. The stuff they offer is just so darn weird. Here's a selection of things I have not bought from Swarmjam:

  • 14 carat plated gold evil eye and receiving hand bracelet
  • motivational self help book "If Only I'd Said That, Volume VI"
  • my choice of bean bag chair (as opposed to a randomly imposed bean bag chair)
  • bikini wrap dress
  • coloured hair extensions
  • temporary eye rock crystals (I don't even know what that is but it sounds like it hurts)
  • three whole body vibration sessions (WHOO!)
  • woman's sheepskin leather touchscreen gloves (can I combine that with the previous offer?)
  • three collagen eye renewal treatments
  • vegan eco-friendly footwear
  • pet teeth cleaning and polishing
  • memory foam bath mat
  • radio controlled stunt car
  • automatic tweezers
  • air assault Halloween fireworks
  • 12 logo cookies of your favourite team or character
  • 2-night romantic getaway in Victor (Oh, sorry, that was Victoria)
  • evening with Jamie Lee Curtis (better than Victor, anyway)
  • 5 24-karat gold facial masks
  • bra washing ball
  • 30 days of raspberry ketone pills
  • dog adventure hikes
  • custom made earplugs
I usually WHOOP with laughter when I get a Swarmjam email. It's free to subscribe, and they keep sending them even if you never buy anything. It's like those joke a day sites, only it's so unintentionally funny that I am addicted to it.

question: If I were to buy one thing from that list for your Christmas present, which should it be?

mompoet - HA!

Monday, December 10, 2012

home sweet home

I am sitting in my kitchen, posting a blog while some cookies bake in the oven. I am baking for a potluck at work tomorrow, and for our sandwich ministry December meeting (at which we make sandwiches then have a snack feast at our friend Grace's house), and for Andy and Alex (because last time I baked cookies I did not bake enough to leave sufficient quantities at home for them to eat). The cookies are a double batch of mocha shortbreads. It's a recipe that I cut out of the newspaper years ago. Here it is:

1 cup butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (I left this out tonight because one of my co-workers is allergic)
2 tsp strong brewed coffee
1 Tbs cocoa
1 Tbs fine ground coffee
2 1/2 cups flour

Cream the butter and icing sugar. Then add the salt, vanilla, almond extract, brewed coffee, ground coffee and cocoa and stir well. Then mix in the flour. You pretty much have to use your hands at the end, but not too much. You don't want to melt the butter.

Shape the cookies onto a cookie sheet. I make them lozenge shaped and poke holes in them with a fork, but that's just me. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350 oven. They are done when they are slightly brown on the bottom. While they are still hot, pat them gently into granulated sugar.

They are barely sweet, very buttery-coffee-cocoa tasting and yummy. Make lots. That's a single recipe there. You might want to just use a whole pound of butter and double it.

I am looking forward to having Fiona bake cookies in our kitchen. Before she left for university, she had pretty much taken over as the family cookie baker. Now that she's away, we are mostly deficient in cookies except when I get the occasional urge.

I am also taking szechuan green beans to the potluck at work. The theme for the potluck is "naughty or nice." I'm not sure which the beans are, but I think the cookies are definitely naughty. If you eat one with a glass of Gran Marnier or a shot of Sambucca alongside, that is definitely naughty, but probably too naughty for work. That's another good reason I made enough to keep some at home.

Eleven days until Fiona comes home. Or only 10 days if you are in New Jersey, because it is already tomorrow there. Fiona, I hope this still counts as blogging Monday.

question: do you bake cookies?

mompoet - home is sweet and soon will be sweeter with the addition of our best cookie baker

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Andy, Alex and I celebrated my birthday a bit belatedly with my parents on Saturday. We went to the Korean barbeque restaurant and cooked supper at our table. It was delicious. Then we went back to Mom and Dad's for cake. Mom made my favourite: coffee angelfood with chocolate glaze.

Andy took this picture. I had blown out the other 3 candles on my binary birthday cake already. This one signifies my 1 boyfriend, who is also my husband.

question: what kind of birthday cake do you like?

mompoet - I like s-t-r-e-t-c-h birthdays!

O Christmas Tree

I am remembering some of our most memorable Christmas trees today:

1. The Just Finished PDP Tree
Christmas 1983 is the Christmas of my finishing my university degree + one extra year for my teacher certification. I had an especially hard time in my final semester. The school teacher who I was partnered with was going through a difficult time personally, and was not in a good place to make we feel welcome or encouraged. Every day, for almost the whole semester, I cried on my way to and from school and usually also at some point during the day. I loved teaching, but I lived in total fear that I was going to fail the semester and have to repeat it, and my interactions with my teacher sponsor made me feel less than useless as a teacher, and sometimes as a person. Looking back, I think it was one of the worst periods of my life.

So when Christmas rolled around and I was finished with that, and I passed the program, and was ready to start life as a teacher, I was greatly relieved. I had just moved in with Andy, and that was very happy too. We lived in a small apartment in South Burnaby. I had a couple of weeks off work of any kind, and I commenced crafting. We bought an artificial Christmas tree, because real trees weren't allowed in the building, and I made all of the ornaments for it. I made clothespin reindeer, using wooden clothespins which I painted dark brown and decorated with felt, sequins, googly eyes and string. I sewed puffy stuffed stars out of felt, decorated with larger sequins. I crafted tiny mice in bed, sleeping in halved walnut shells, and I made little baskets with baby's breath flowers and tartan bows. I spent happy hours doing all of this. Andy put lights on the tree, and we put all of these home-made ornaments on. It was the most beautiful, therapeutic Christmas tree ever. We still have a lot of those home-made ornaments. When I put them on our tree I remember that year. It was a turning point in our lives. I didn't turn out to be a teacher, but Andy and I turned out to be a married couple soon after and forever more. I haven't ever been that miserable for that long any more, but I know that doing something creative and/or homey is a good reset for me.

2. The Almost Didn't Get A Tree
The kids were about 2 and 5, so it must have been about 1995. We were living in Port Moody by this time, and we have always bought a cut tree for our home here. I was busy running a daycare in our home, and we had opted not to clutter up our small house with a tree for too many days, because my daycare kids played all around the house, and I had babies and toddlers and didn't want to worry about anyone pulling down the tree, besides our own kids. So we waited until December 22 or so, and went looking for a tree on a Friday evening, I think. We had supper at my parents' place, then headed over to the hardware store where they sold cheap trees. Sold out. No problem, let's go to a tree lot. Sold out. Now we were frantic. We had children crying in the back seat, because they were afraid we would not get a Christmas tree this year. We still had the artificial tree from the apartment, tucked under our stairs, but we really wanted a real tree. We found a place with trees, but they were expensive and they had trunks the size of elephant legs that would not fit our tree stand. Finally, somewhere, we found a tree. It cost $35, which was a lot at the time, and Andy had to hack and whittle the trunk to make it fit the stand, but we got our tree. PHEW. I learned that year to buy our tree at least a week before Christmas.

3. The Mom and Daughter Tree
Fiona was 6 or 7 years old. Andy was working a lot of overtime on the weekends. I was working full time again. Alex must have been 9 or 10. Fiona was in a show out at a theatre in Port Coquitlam, so I was driving back and forth evenings and weekends to get her to her performances. We just did not have time to go out as a family and get a tree. One Saturday about a week before Christmas, Fiona and I decided to get the tree between her matinee and evening shows. We drove to Rona, where they sold cheap trees, and chose a tree. I had never picked out a tree without Andy, so I was a bit nervous about bringing it home on top of the car. The man at Rona said he couldn't help us tie the tree on the car because of liability, but he gave us as much string as we wanted. Fiona and I rolled down the car windows (we had no roof rack), and tied the string around and under and through the car and the tree, probably more times than necessary. When we tried to get back into the car, we discovered we had tied all but one door shut! So we climbed into the car through the backseat and drove home. The tree did not fall off. That year I learned to open the car doors, not just the windows, when you tie a tree onto your car roof with string.

4. The Sad Tree
The Christmas of the big snow, 2008, Andy and Fiona went to IKEA to buy a tree. They had a deal there where you buy a tree for $20, then bring it back after Christmas for a $20 store coupon. Such a deal! I was skeptical, but I know IKEA sometimes does amazing things. Andy and Fiona brought back a frozen shut tree. We put it in the stand. Over the next 24 hours, the tree slowly opened out. It was a horrible tree. Many of the branches had no needles at all, and the rest of the branches began to drop their needles profusely as soon as they thawed. Every time I looked at that tree it looked worse. Andy and Fiona kept saying things like, "If we put ornaments and lights on, it will be okay." But I couldn't stand it. I told them that tree made me feel sad and we had to get a new tree. So I drove out myself to Art Knapps and got a nice tree. The sad IKEA tree went out to the front garden, where Andy planted it in a mound of snow, and decorated it with outdoor lights. It looked okay out there. I learned that Christmas that it's okay to to insist on something decent and not to accept a sad Christmas tree. I also remembered to open the doors when I tied the replacement tree to the top of my car.

So those are our most memorable Christmas trees. I can't wait to see what we get this year. We will go out 11 days before Christmas. We will buy a tree that is not frozen, we will tie it to the car the correct way, and we will enjoy the peace and nourishment of decorating it and relaxing with it in our warm and cozy home.

question: what's your most memorable tree?

mompoet - remembering

Saturday, December 08, 2012

life is filled with delight

First of all, Fiona will be home in 2 weeks! I am timing the putting up of our Christmas tree so it will greet her when she walks in the door. We get a cut tree, so as soon as we bring it into the house, the clock is ticking. I think next Friday will be the perfect time to put it up. I usually take it down a couple of days after Christmas, mostly because it's sad to take it down after New Year's Eve. So that means we can start a bit earlier than otherwise. I love to get up early in the morning and turn on just the Christmas tree, and sit with a cup of coffee and look at the lights. mmmmm!

Second of all, my workplace won the very first Extreme Makeover Gingerbread House Edition Contest. A bunch of City departments took identical gingerbread house kits and crafted them into something special. Here's ours.

Finally, we had the best choir concert ever last night. I have to admit it was my second concert ever, but I think this one will last in my memory long after the others have faded. We performed in a church gymnasium for about 125 moms and children. For most of the show, the audience was louder than the choir, even with us using a sound system for amplification. The children were dancing all around the stage for the whole concert. A lot of the moms were singing along, and we got huge applause and thank yous at the end. It felt like we were rock stars, except for the parts when most of the audience was ignoring us and eating Nanaimo bars. The best part was two little girls in beautiful party dresses, who jumped up on the risers and ran in and out between us on the stage, grabbing our legs and head butting us as they played tag among the singing choir members. It was all I could do not to crack up laughing. You should have seen our choir leader's face as she directed us to soldier on and have fun. I really did. I looked out at the audience and thought about what Christmas would be like for them, and wanted to make it as loving and full of fun as I could.

Today I'll go to the movie theatre to see a family matinee with Alex. It's A Christmas Story on the big screen. This is totally a family favourite. We can quote entire scenes of of the movie to each other. I think it will be so much fun to see in the theatre. Of course, when Fiona comes home, we will watch it together on TV.

Tonight, my Mom and Dad will meet up with us for a belated birthday supper at the Korean barbeque restaurant. YUM.

question: what's good for you today?

mompoet - life is truly filled with delight

Friday, December 07, 2012

the shelter

Last week our church finished up its month of hosting the Bridge Shelter. It's our sixth year of helping with this program. Each year I have signed up for Tuesday and Thursday breakfast shifts. It happened that my last shift was on my birthday. So I started my day dark and early, serving breakfast, handing out lunches, putting away beds, vacuuming the floor, and cleaning up the kitchen after sending our 20 guests out with wishes for a safe and happy day.

Our shelter coordinator for the month summarized some of the facts about the two months that we hosted this year:

We put out 572 mats in November and served/provided over 1,700 meals. In March when we hosted, we put out 409 mats and served/provided over 1,200 meals. This year St. Andrew’s has put out over 980 mats and served/provided over 2,950 meals.

In the first two months of shelter operation this fall, the outreach workers who supervise the shelter have helped 12 guests to permanent housing and 3 into recovery programs. This is the part of the shelter that goes beyond just providing a safe, warm, welcoming place for our brothers and sisters.

Besides this, I believe it changes all of us who help. Being part of this has opened my eyes and my heart and made me less afraid to talk to people whose lives are so different from mine. I have learned that we really are not all that different. I used to be afraid. Now I know that most of the people who we help are much more frightened that we are. Laughing over coffee, sharing encouragement in both directions, we bridge a divide that is much more narrow than I ever imagined. Those figures about how many are fed by the shelter? We could double them, when you consider that we, as hosts, are nourished equally, if not more, by our experience.

So Thursday morning was a happy birthday for me, beginning with toast and peanut butter and coffee and bleach and smiles and jokes, early in the morning.

question: when have you known that you are blessed to be a blessing?

mompoet - until next year...

being alive

Chris Colfer performed this on Glee last night. He did a very nice job in his character of Kurt Hummel. It reminded me how much I love this song.

question: what song reminded you of something today?

mompoet - listening

Thursday, December 06, 2012

home to 60 in less than a minute

We had a wonderful visit with Fiona in New York and New Jersey, but we could not call it relaxing. A New York vacation is full of go-go-go. There's so much to do and see, and we wanted to get as much as we could out of every moment. Couple that with the 3 hour time difference, and you pretty much have a recipe for tired!

Every time I go on vacation I tell myself, "next time I will schedule the first day home as an extra vacation day so I can unpack, rest up and readjust," but it never works out that way. We got home on a Sunday evening. On Monday, I returned to work, and Andy headed out to the Sunshine Coast to help his brother with a kitchen renovation. He helped with floor tiling for 3 days, while I hit the ground running at work: on call for Emergency Social Services, preparing to present at a conference and to host our seniors' Christmas lunch. There was also a church board meeting in there, and a final rehearsal for our choir concert. I felt like every moment was jam-packed with stuff I needed to do, and I celebrated my birthday too!

Everything went well:

It was a quiet week on call. Phew.

My presentation at the conference went well. I wrote and performed a slam poem after the lunch break. I think of that presentation slot as the same as the big number right after intermission in a musical theatre production. The show writers must know that everyone might nod off after they return from the break, so it seems like that's always where they have a tiger on stage and a lady in a yellow sequin dress being shot out of a cannon and guys with banjos swinging from the chandeliers. Well, not really, but you know what I mean. I don't think my poem compared with that, but it helped to serve the same function - injecting some fun and excitement into a room full of people lulled by half a day sitting already and gourmet macaroni and cheese at the lunch buffet. I followed up with a poem at the end of the day, written just before the end of the day, to summarize the highlights of our day at the conference. That was nerve-wracking, but it worked. I put some singing into both poems (inspired by my choir experience) and even got the conference delegates to sing with me. YAY

We had our first choir concert on Sunday afternoon. It was utter chaos right up to curtain time, and even a bit during the show. That's the first time I have ever seen a performance paused so one of the musicians can run outside to prevent his car from being towed away. Our singing went well, and we are encouraged and energized for two more shows in the next couple of days. Once you have done the first show, it's all good. There will be video soon, and I will share it with you.

The Christmas luncheon was a big success. We had a full turkey dinner (catered, thank goodness!) and Elvis was in the building for entertainment. Our seniors love Elvis! Best of all, my co-worker Linda was back from her 2 week vacation. I missed her when she was away!

My birthday was quiet and sweet. I had a nice Thai chicken supper, cooked by my Mom, and a lovely time chatting with my parents. We'll have a belated birthday cake this weekend, when Andy and Alex are available to attend.

I did stop all the action on Saturday, and stayed in my pajamas for most of the day. That was nice.

Life is fast and fun and full of good things. I am grateful for my energy and for all of the good people around me who reflect it back to me. Sometimes I crave a nap when I don't have time for one, but mostly I am happy with it all. Suddenly New York seems like a long time ago. We'll have to go back again soon.

question: what's on your plate?

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