Saturday, March 24, 2012

shelter supper

Sunday afternoon, Cathy and I met to cook up a meal for the guests at the shelter that my church is hosting this month. One month each winter, we take a turn opening up our church hall to people who have nowhere else to sleep. We take turns cooking, cleaning and offering a warm welcome. It feels good to be able to do something. I think it's a gift for us as much as it is for our guests.

I asked a bunch of my lady friends to pitch in some groceries or cash, and easily collected more than I needed. Andy took me shopping Sunday morning, and I loaded up the cart with good stuff. For the record, the leftover cash has gone to the shelter fund to help pay for supper another night, when the cooks didn't have enough funds. So I guess we provided a supper and a half. Thank you ladies!

Around lunchtime Sunday, I baked up a big batch of oatmeal cookies with raisins and pumpkin seeds to make them extra-nutritious.

Then Cathy came over. We made 2 big salads, one brown rice with veggies and a tahini dressing, the other a big old green salad. We cooked up 6 large pizzas - pepperoni, ham and pineapple and veggie. The dough was whole wheat, from my bread machine. I made it Saturday night and let it get nice and yeasty and poofy. That's the way I make really yummy pizza.

Cathy and I had such a nice visit while we washed and chopped and baked and sliced. I like cooking with Cathy aka Julia or Julie or maybe Julie-ulia.

At 9pm, Andy and I arrived at the church. We heated up the pizza and prepared hot chocolate and coffee and juice for the guests. Other volunteers set up the supper tables and beds and got the clothing and toiletries area ready. The guests arrived about 9:45. We had 15 guests that night. They were hungry and thirsty. Everyone ate a lot of pizza and a lot of salad. Several guests commented on how glad they were to get fresh vegetables as part of the meal. I think a salad makes a meal complete.

Then there was dessert. We served the cookies sundae style with ice cream, fresh strawberries and caramel sauce. That was yummy!

As soon as supper was done, the guests hopped into bed. It was about 10:30. The volunteers worked as quietly as they could to clean up the dishes and the kitchen, then we all said thank you to one another and headed for home. We were in our own bed about 11:30.

This is the last year that our church will host the shelter in our own building. The plan for the next couple of years is to have it for 6 months straight through at one church, near where most of the guests spend their daytimes, in Port Coquitlam. I think that churches and other groups will be able to sign up for week-long commitments to provide food and hosting at the church in PoCo. So I'll continue to help, but not again at St. Andrew's. In a couple of years, the shelter will move into a permanent building that will provide service year-round, day and night. I hope they'll want volunteers there too. This is nourishing work.

For now, I have 2 early morning shifts left before the shelter closes. Breakfast is simpler than supper. On weekdays we serve juice, coffee, toast and cereal, and hand out bag lunches as the guests leave. I'm glad to have this opportunity to be of service. It's what our faith community is about. I think it's what most of us crave, to be able to do something to make the world a bit more kind and helpful.

question: If you could cook for 15 new friends, what would you cook?

mompoet - pizza for you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

answering in full sentences

Fiona and I were in a coffee shop. She was drinking hot apple cider. I was drinking an Americano. I offered her a sip, and she declined. "What is an Americano, anyway?" she asked me. I explained, to the best of my knowledge, including a little detour into trivia: Waves coffee shops call it a "Canadiano." Fiona smiled, then she said, "You would be good for talking when they film you, so they can edit parts out."


I asked her if that was supposed to be a compliment. She clarified. She told me that when I answer a question, I use a full sentence, beginning with reference to the question itself. That reminded me of what I heard Alex tell the interview subjects for one of his documentary films: "Please try to include the question in your answer." When an interview subject includes the question in his or her comments, it makes for a full explanation of the subject at hand, and eliminates the need for the interviewer's voice in the finished film.

So I can't remember what I said about Americano, but I must have begun with, "An Americano is..." According to Fiona, not everyone answers questions in this manner.

Later, we were at home. I was working on Fiona's income taxes. She asked me, "What's on a T-4 slip?" I can't remember what I said in reply, but she shouted out, "Full sentence!"

"Sure is!" I replied, then I added "Sentence fragment!"

question: do your children have you figured out?

mompoet - usually pretty consistent, but sometimes unpredictable

Sunday, March 11, 2012

fiona is home

It's Spring Break at Fiona's university. She's home for a week. What she wants to do most is cook. I can relate. Being away from home for one week on our New York trip, I went through severe cooking withdrawal, especially staying in a neighbourhood full of truly spectacular food stores. Fiona woke up before us and baked blueberry muffins for breakfast this morning. She has invited her grandparents and cousin over for lettuce wraps tonight. I think this week is going to be delicious!

I'll be at work this week, but I've booked Wednesday off. We'll take the ferry over to Vancouver Island for the day, and go see Fiona's voice teacher Cheryl in a production of All Shook Up at the Chemainus Playhouse. That will be a treat!

We are all glad to have Fiona with us before she returns to New Jersey for the final push of her first year at university. We are glad she loves it there so much. We are very glad that she still likes to come home and hang out with us. We'll let her cook whatever she wants, whenever she wants.

question: who cooks? who cooks for you?

mompoet - could not resist doing a random owl call at the end of a blog post

extra day update

On February 29, I wrote about half a dozen letters to people I know, telling them how much I appreciate them. It took me a few days to get them delivered and mailed. In fact, I still have two sitting on my desk, but they'll be delivered soon.

I have been enjoying my family and friends' reaction to the letters. I knew that it would make them feel happy to know how much I like them, and to be able to receive that information and soak it up and re-read it in their own time. Everyone who has received a letter has let me know that it was a good thing. I am so glad I did it. It's just easier to write down what is specifically and uniquely special about a person than it is to lay it out in ordinary conversation.

The other thing that happened is that I realised I have a really long list of people who I appreciate. So, if you know me and have not received a letter, and have reason to believe that I appreciate you, please know that I will try not to wait four more years to write some more letters. It feels good to do it, and it feels good to find out that others feel good receiving it. It's worth making time for, even when it's not a leap year.

question: have I told you lately that you are wonderful?

mompoet - I like telling you!